There is nothing quite like a Little League parade.
Andover Little League had its parade last weekend and it was like all the rest of them — funny, cheery, colorful and a day when the boys and girls truly feel like kings. It is a special day.
Well, it’s also going to be a special summer in Andover because of a Little League all-star team that grabbed hold of the hearts of the Merrimack Valley by doing the unthinkable 25 years ago, in 1988. And the 12 boys and coaches on that team were welcomed home with a parade of their own.
That was when the Andover Nationals went to the Little League World Series.
The Andover squad marched through the East Regional in Bristol, Conn., winning on a walk-off grand slam in the championship game, before heading off on a bus to Williamsport, Pa.
It was a trip I’ll never forget because I went there with them (not on the bus).
There is no other place in America like Williamsport, particularly South Williamsport, where the baseball complex, which includes another beautiful 10-year-old stadium, resides.
They didn’t win the Little League World Series, but that has never mattered. Getting there, with America and the rest of the world watching, listening (all of the Andover games were broadcast live on WCCM) and reading about their exploits was what did.
Well, in mid-June, this team will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of that trip. And while there have been factions of people related to the team that have gotten together over a few of the anniversaries, this one is expected to include perfect attendance. All of the kids and coaches as well most of the parents will be there for this private party to celebrate.
I was 26 at the time — (I won’t list my age now. You do the math!) — and this experience following the team and going to Williamsport was unlike anything I had experienced before or since. I remembered leaving Williamsport saying I would some day take my son (I predicted I would have a son!) back there to soak in the special feelings I remembered.