For next 12 days, Americana is alive and well at Series

The teams have come from far away Uganda and Australia and just down the road, Red Land.

Among United States competitors, there are fresh names in the competition. South Carolina is here for the first time since 1950. Missouri is making a rare appearance.

There are big names on the visitor list. Former Pittsburgh Pirate Manager Jim Leyland is grand marshal of tonight’s Grand Slam Parade. Retired New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera will be inducted into the Little League Hall of Excellence next Tuesday.

It must be time for the Little League World Series, our community’s annual worldwide showcase.

For the next 12 days, Williamsport or South Williamsport will be the dateline on hundreds of stories written, broadcast and televised worldwide. And the tone will be decidedly positive because this event embodies Americana that is in woefully short supply these days.

The competition is real but it’s also friendly, largely because it involves 11- and 12-year-olds who will be swimming together in the pool at International Grove 30 minutes after battling each other at Howard J. Lamade Stadium below. Sportsmanship rules at this world title competition, which is refreshing.

The crowds equal parts new visitors, local residents and people who have been coming here for decades are the opposite of jaded. To many in the audience, trading Little League pins shares equal time with the action on the field.

And perhaps best of all, each chapter of the Little League World Series brings a set of relationships among these participants from all corners of the globe that will last a lifetime and trump all of the stereotypes that have come before this experience.

Welcome to our community. Let the games begin.