Suddenly, there’s color among the bushes and the flowers begin to bloom. And just like that, we sweep the winter away and say hello to spring.
We’ll all keep a sweater or two around because there’s a still a few cold days and evenings ahead, surely. But even on those days, if the sun is out you’ll feel the warmth on your face.
But the very first sign of spring around Woodhaven happens this Saturday morning with the annual WORKS Little League Parade. Hundreds of players coaches and parents will usher in the start of the baseball season with a march that starts at PS 60 and ends at the Bandshell in Forest Park.
The parade will gather around 9 a.m. and head one short block down 90th to Jamaica Avenue. It will head towards Forest Parkway, where marchers will turn and walk straight up Forest Park Memorial Drive until they hit the bandshell.
If you are out and about or you live nearby, take a few moments out of your morning to wave to the kids as they pass by. It’s an exciting time to be a young kid with the entire season (your entire life, really) ahead of you. The very least we can do is wave.
My father used to be very involved in the league when it was called Rich-Haven. He did a lot of artwork for Rich-Haven, designing the decals and boosters the players used to sell.
One of the boosters was a drawing of a young ballplayer. That’s a drawing of me and you can still see one or two around Woodhaven.
For a few years, my father painted these large posters on giant, paneling-sized pieces of oak tag. Several kids would take turns carrying the giant sign all the way from Westfal’s (a restaurant on Atlantic) down to Jamaica Avenue then across to Forest parkway and up to the park.
It was a daunting parade route, made more difficult by carrying a giant sign, a task my father volunteered me for each year. My dad dropped me and the giant sign off at Westfal’s and drove the car up to the park while I walked the parade route.
One year, it began to rain as we were waiting to march. By the time we hit Jamaica and 111th it was no longer a steady rain, it was a downpour.
Almost 1,000 kids and adults walking through a cold, freezing rain wasn’t the way we envisioned kicking off the baseball season, but there you have it.
We eventually lifted the sign above our heads and used it as a moveable shelter. No one was out watching us walk anyway, no one was waving at us. We were cold, wet and miserable, but we were building character.
By the time we hit Woodhaven, all the watercolor paint on the sign was running down our arms and faces. The sign was also absorbing water and becoming too heavy to carry. It finally started to disintegrate, and by the time we hit Forest Parkway it fell apart.
The rain washed a lot of the paint off of us, but not all of it. We looked like little wet clowns. As everyone got to the bandshell, parents were waiting to take their kids home.
“Where’s the sign?” my father asked.
We were soaked, we were freezing and, in the moment, we probably thought we were having a lousy time. But the years have a way of taking even the bad times and making them better. You look back at the bad days and laugh. And amazingly, you find yourself wishing you could go back and do them all over again.
It’s worth remembering whenever you’re having a bad day that someday you might look back on it and smile.
For the kids in our community, those at the start of their lives, the parade is a rite of passage, something to look back on many years from now. They’ve got many years ahead of them, but for now spring is here, all of our teams are undefeated, and better days are ahead.
Best wishes to all the players, coaches and parents of WORKS Little League for a spectacular 2019 season!