Play ball: Felton-Harrington Little Leagues celebrate opening day

FELTON – The Felton/Harrington Little League celebrated an event that has been held by Little League teams from all over the world for more than 60 years – Opening Day.

Under bright sunshine and pleasant temperatures, the teams supported by both towns kicked off the 2016 season by marching in a parade down the center of Felton and culminated with speakers and awards being handed out on one of Felton Little League softball fields.

Included in the ceremony was Gabe Martin winning the Alex Dean Award, T-Ball manager Jake Martinez winning the Dakota Turner Award, recognition of last year’s Delaware District I (Kent County) champions the 8-9 Machine Pitch All-Stars and the Walt Bowers All-Stars. Also, entertaining both the fans and the 350-375 baseball and softball players were first pitches thrown out by state Rep. Bobby Outten, R-Harrington, Felton Fire Department mascot Sparky the fire dog and Andy Armadillo the Texas Roadhouse mascot.

The Felton/Harrington Little League Major Baseball Phillies team rides in the Opening Day parade held last Saturday in Felton. Next year’s parade will be held in Harrington. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

The Felton/Harrington Little League Major Baseball Phillies team rides in the Opening Day parade held last Saturday in Felton. Next year’s parade will be held in Harrington. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

Organizing the parade takes plenty of work, but it’s well worth all the time and effort.

“We do the parade because the kids love it,” said Felton Little League President Julie Brooks. “They get to toss out candy and ride through town in their uniforms for all to see.”

While the parade takes time and effort, it doesn’t compare to the time and effort that goes into organizing and running a Little League season.

“We like providing the kids with a place to play softball and baseball,” said Brooks, who is starting her fifth year as Felton Little League President. “Our Little League (complexes) are a safe place for kids to play, make friends, have fun and learn baseball and softball skills.”

Like most Little League organizations, Felton/Harrington has faced a few road bumps over the last several years.

“Whenever you depend on volunteers, you are going to have a few problems,” Brooks said. “While our number of volunteers is up, we are having some difficulty finding enough umpires.

“I don’t know what the reasons are that the number of umpires is down, but it’s not only here, it’s a problem throughout Little League.

“So, if you want to help umpire at any level, please contact any board member from both Felton and Harrington and we will provide all the training you need.”

Gabe Martin, right, is presented with the Annual Alex Dean Award by Dennis Russum during last Saturday’s Opening Day ceremonies of the Felton/Harrington Little League. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

Gabe Martin, right, is presented with the Annual Alex Dean Award by Dennis Russum during last Saturday’s Opening Day ceremonies of the Felton/Harrington Little League. (Special to The Journal/Bill Mitchell)

Next year, the Opening Day parade will be held in Harrington for only the second time.

“The first time we held the parade in Harrington it was too long of a route due to where the Little League fields are located,” said Brooks. “I think the parade will start at the Harrington Fire Department instead of the school, which will shorten the route. If it works out, we will hold the parade in each town every other year.”

If you would like to watch and support the Little League players from both Felton and Harrington, games will be played at both complexes over the next several weeks.

Felton Little League is located near the Lake Forest North Elementary School and Harrington’s fields are located behind the Moose on US Route 13.

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