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Parade atmosphere gives goosebumps to some visitors

A string band plays for cheering crowds during the Grand Slam Parade Wednesday evening in downtown Williamsport. DAVE KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette

Scott Freeman of Vancouver, Canada, had goosebumps along his arms as he watched the Little League World Series Grand Slam Parade make its way along Fourth Street in the Wednesday evening sun.

“We are so fortunate to be here,” he said.

In town simply for the Series experience, Freeman stood among the crowd watching the pageantry of the parade through the heart of the city.

It was his first visit to Williamsport and the Series in South Williamsport. The telecom professional proudly displayed the red maple leaf flag of his nation.

Adjacent to those cheering on British Columbia’s Coquitlam Little League were the Australians.

They were lined up along Pine Street, waving their blue, red and white flags.

Mahdi Choate of Sydney, Australia, a nurse, who joined her son’s team, Cronulla Little League of Sydney, New South Wales.

Many of the Australian visitors spent a couple of days in New York City before arriving here, team supporters said.

Choate, whose husband, Jason, manages the team, and whose son plays shortstop for the team, said the Little League International Complex consisting of Lamade and Volunteer stadiums were “massive upgrades” to where their team plays baseball.

In brief, Choate described the U.S. as “big, in terms of geography,” and having massive amounts of cars and food.

The team supporters from Epitacio “Mala” Torres Little League in Guadalupe, Mexico, blared traditional songs from their nation over a private sound system as their float made its way down Fourth Street.

Those wearing bright yellow shirts from Loudoun South Little League, South Riding, Virginia, were thrilled to be in town.

Michelle Thyen’s son is on the team. The pressure of playing in the biggest stadiums before millions of television viewers and fans is part of a learning experience, she said.

Thyen said their manager tells the team, “how you react matters.”

As for the atmosphere, Thyen said having the Genetti Hotel right in the heart of the city is comforting.

There were teams with loved ones from around the world but there was plenty of local flavor, too.

Just like Theresa Burkholder, of South Williamsport, an Uber driver, who said she enjoyed gathering up trinkets with Little League themes and handing them out for good measure.

She handed out baby rubber ducks, pens and fans to wave to keep spectators cool.

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