Ready for a good time
Kick-off festivities for the Little League World Series may not have started until 4 p.m. and the ninth annual Grand Slam Parade didn’t begin until 6 p.m., but that didn’t stop some fans from setting up lawn chairs along West Fourth Street in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Some dedicated individuals even decided to spend the entire day there to ensure a great view of the 16 Little League World Series teams that made their way down West Fourth Street.
Michael Chyko, of Bloomsburg, along with his grandson, Andrew, set up camp between the Sun-Gazette office and the Community Arts Center at 12:30 p.m. to save about 10 seats for friends and family.
The Chykos have attended the parade for the past five years but previously had another individual reserve their spot.
“This year, we were on our own,” Michael Chyko said. “We had no idea what time to get here to get a spot so we decided to get here early.”
While Michael’s wife went shopping around downtown, he and Andrew sat and
talked about Little League pins while looking at the Sun-Gazette’s magazine, “The Williamsport Sun-Gazette Pin: A Collector’s Guide to the First Ten Years 2004-2013.”
Right down the block from the Chyko family, Jeanie Davies and Miff Hall, of Westfield, began saving their traditional spot on the corner of West Fourth and Hepburn streets at 2 p.m.
“Every time we’ve been down (to Williamsport for the Grand Slam Parade) we get this corner,” Hall said.
Some fans came out for the teams, such as Australia and the Czech Republic, which are new to the World Series. Others came for the atmosphere, as hotdogs, balloon animals and music filled Fourth Street. But Dot Heimbach, of South Williamsport, was there for the floats.
Heimbach previously built floats for parades, so she enjoys seeing the craftsmanship of others, she said.
“I’m interested to see what people can do,” Heimbach said.
Heimbach couldn’t have been disappointed. Parade attractions came in all shapes and sizes. From fire trucks to local high school bands to the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, fans clapped their hands and cheered as each float passed by.
While the parade is a tradition for some, for John Lebiszczak and his family, of Willimantic, Conn., it was their first time.
Although the New England region will be represented by the team from Westport, Conn., the Lebiszczak family being in Williamsport was purely a coincidence. The family had planned a vacation to Hershey and then to the World Series far before the Connecticut team punched their ticket to South Williamsport.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Lebiszczak said of the events that brought his family vacation and the team together.
But while Lebiszczak and his family have a rooting interest in the World Series, Dave Turner, of South Williamsport, was at the parade to simply have a good time.
“We come to the parade every year,” Turner said.
Turner, whose children play Little League, enjoys seeing the international teams because it’s an experience like no other to have people from around the globe in the area.
“We don’t really have a team (that he is rooting for). We’ll probably pick one later in the week,” Turner said.