A work crew from FieldTurf stretches out a section of artificial turf at McNary High School’s Flesher Field Tuesday, Aug. 11. A dedication ceremony is planned during McNary’s annual Blue Day celebration Saturday, Aug. 22. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

A work crew from FieldTurf stretches out a section of artificial turf at McNary High School’s Flesher Field Tuesday, Aug. 11. A dedication ceremony is planned during McNary’s annual Blue Day celebration Saturday, Aug. 22. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

For Danielle Bethell, president of the McNary High School Athletic Booster Club (MABC), McNary’s new artificial turf field is less about sports and more about the individual students who will end up using it.

“Every kid that puts effort into one of the groups using the field puts something on the line for someone else to see, and we need to be there to support them through that,” Bethell said.

Whether those students are on sports teams, in the band, or part of the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps is secondary to her idea of what the new field represents.

On Saturday, Aug. 22, Bethell is challenging other Keizerites to attend the annual Blue Day celebration and BBQ at the school and support McNary students.

“It’s about rallying the community and I want people to come out and watch the kids and engage them,” she said.

In addition to a planned dedication ceremony for the school’s new artificial turf field at noon, scrimmages by McNary area football teams, the high school soccer and lacrosse teams as well as demonstrations by the band and color guard are slated.

The fun kicks off at 10 a.m. and is expected to wrap up by 2 p.m. A community BBQ will feature a hamburger or hot dog, chips, salad, dessert and water or lemonade for $4.

The Dodge Gridiron Challenge will be on-site to help raise funds up to $5,000 for the turf project.  All eligible drivers 18 and older will be able to test drive a Dodge of their choice around a short course in the parking lot – no strings attached – and the Celtic football program will receive $20.

Bethell is hoping fundraising during the event will get the MABC even closer to closing the gap for funding the turf project. Organizers are just $32,000 shy of fulfilling their $500,000 cash goal. Another half-million in in-kind donations has made the turf a reality for McNary.

After two months of prep, crews were installing the actual turf this week, a process that involved laying down turf like carpet, stitching it together and then stretching it out.

One popular fundraising device for the turf project is through purchasing of yard signs with messages rallying for McNary for $20. For the first time, beginning this Blue Day, athletic supporters will be able to order sport-specific signs for families with students participating in everything from band to lacrosse to bowling.

Bethell is resting somewhat easier with the fundraising goal in reach, but she and the MABC board are pushing to close the gap before October to prevent using money raised at the McNary Sports Dinner and Auction for the turf project.

“We’ve promised to hold onto those funds until everything is paid for, but we would like to put those funds toward sports-specific needs,” Bethell said.