Nyack-Valley Cottage held its Opening Day ceremony on Saturday, and for the second straight year, the league offered a carnival and parade to kick off the season.
“Just last year we decided to really go big with the day, and make it this fun event for everyone,” said Robert Wisner, president of the league. “It’s only the second time we’ve done this, but it’s a yearly tradition now and something we plan to keep on doing.”
Team from all the divisions marched to Jon Albert Memorial Field at Liberty Elementary School, and then onto the field. The teams were all announced, and winners from last season were congratulated. The Braves, who won the majors division, received their tall trophy. The Lower Hudson Valley Youth Chorus sang the national anthem.
“We care deeply about this community, and it feels phenomenal for all of us friends and neighbors to get together to come out here with our kids, with our young people, and just bond,” said Legislator Frank Sparaco, who spoke during the ceremony.
Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and Clarkstown Town Supervisor Alex Gromack also spoke at the event.
“There’s nothing like Opening Day in Little League,” Zebrowski said. “I’m a little bit jealous. I remember back when I played, there was just nothing like it.”
Gromack and other Clarkstown elected officials led the crowd in a rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.”
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by John Flaherty, who played 14 years in the Major Leagues and grew up in Rockland. Flaherty finished his career by playing three years for the Yankees, and now serves as one of their broadcasters on TV.
Keeping kids entertained were the carnival games. There were prizes, two bounce houses and most popular of all, a dunk tank. The first person to sit in the tank was Wisner, who playfully taunted kids as they tried to dunk him.
For the Opening Day ceremony, kids playing in the games on Saturday used wood bats, which were purchased by the league and given out to teams.
“We just thought it was a nice gesture and something different to do to take it back to how baseball used to be played,” Wisner said.