Williamsport welcomed the world to a busy downtown neighborhood on Friday night, providing a way for the community and baseball fans to enjoy the away-from-home street parties at the Little League World Series.
According to Jason Fink, President / CEO of the Williamsport Chamber of Commerce, the environment is making a comeback with renewed energy.
“There were people who were disappointed last year” said Fink. “It’s great to be able to celebrate the World Series again.”
The festival brought many food vendors and craft stalls to West Fourth Street, allowing visitors and locals to eat, meet new people, and soak up the fading summer sun.
Tim Raines, 2017 National Baseball Hall of Fame left fielder and top 5 base stealer of all time, sat under a tent outside the Lycoming County Visitor’s Office and signed photos of himself. Although it was scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., he stayed half an hour longer to sign memorabilia and chat with fans.
“This is my first time here” said Raines. “I didn’t play in uniform in the Little League, but I’ve always been a big fan. I’ve always wanted to come.”
Raines praised the international character of the World Series in regular years and complained that teams from other teams could not come.
“But at least we have a US championship. Hopefully we will return to normal next year “, said Raines.
Although many locals came to the city center to experience the street festival, many non-residents also came.
Shawn Probst of Pine Hills, New Jersey, has been collecting Hall of Famer memorabilia since he was 12.
“[Williamsport] is great. Everything is open. I’ve met four or five good people. You can never have enough friends “ Probst said of the city.
Old Lycoming’s Rick Strous said while there weren’t any spectators at the World Series, the event drew a decent crowd.
“At least better than deserted streets!” said Strous.
Welcome to Williamsport also featured live music courtesy of the South Williamsport Mountie Marching Band and the Jersey Shore High School Marching Band.
Jayden Capindica, 14, of New Jersey, played in the 2019 Little League World Series and visited Williamsport in his uniform two years after playing in the World Series.
“It’s fun to remember everything” said Capindica. “It’s fun when people recognize you and want to photograph you.”
Grocery vendors such as Brusters’, Backyard Bistro, Taco Bills, BBQ Inferno, Lewisburg Freeze, and a host of others have settled in parking lots off West Fourth Street.
Meanwhile, other facilities offered leisure activities. Hatchet and baseball pitch speed tests were also featured. In the meantime, religious groups offered messages of hope and goodwill and encouraged participants to visit their communities.
The Hulk Strong Foundation, a local Jersey Shore initiative that stepped up to give back after the community came together to help Phito DeCapria, now 8, performed with the green painted Incredible Hulk. Muscle-packed Nick DeCapria wore green paint and purple shorts as he posed with passers-by to raise money to help fight childhood cancer.
“It’s definitely good to have people back and celebrate our fellowship.” said Fink. “Even better, it’s not just locals. Hopefully we can get back to a semblance of what we had before the pandemic. “
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