Despite the overcast and chilly morning weather last Saturday morning, hundreds of New Paltz youths suited up and took to the streets, proudly displaying their team name and colors for the annual opening day parade hosted by the New Paltz Baseball Association (NPBA).
Big Bird made an appearance, much to the delight of the T-ballers (and some of the parents). The New Paltz fire and police department helped to usher the ballplayers and their coaches down Main Street from the middle school to Hasbrouck Park.
To get the ball rolling, a group of Lenape Elementary School choir students sang the national anthem. Theresa Thompson of the NPBA thanked all the local businesses that sponsor and help suit up the 47 teams in the NPBA leagues. “Without you we couldn’t do this and look how many kids we have in this organization,” said Thompson. “Over 550!” She also thanked the coaches and assistant volunteer coaches, many of them who have “been with us for over ten years coaching teams, often times coaching more than one team!” Some of these veteran coaching volunteers include Seth McKee, Steve Barresi, John Hoffman, Doug Thompson, Flip Gertler and others.
“Let me now introduce our fearless leader,” said Thompson of NPBA president Peter Rubin. Rubin introduced some home-grown state champions from the NPBA who went on to play in the travel-league last year. Teddy Saracino, Eric Hedland and Aidan Hoffman who were all awarded with plaques.
“I know you’re all anxious to get to the donuts, so I’ll make this quick,” Rubin said. “Keep it safe, keep it fun and keep it about the kids!”
Rubin said that he was thrilled by the turnout at the annual parade. “It’s fantastic to see so many happy faces anxious to play ball and be outside,” he said. “This crowd is symbolic of our community. People from all different walks of life come together because of the love of their kids and the sport.”
Rubin said that his involvement meant a lot to him. “Over the years, I’ve grown close with many of these parents and families, having coached with so many different people and having coached so many different kids,” he said. “It’s a special thing that I’m proud to be a part of.”
With that, the kids stampeded through the muddy fields to get their free donuts and then off to the Middle School for team photos. From there it was off to the ballfields to play their first game of the season.