Opening day: Youth baseball, softball parade Saturday

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Courtesy photo A decorated vehicle and team spirit are traditions of the annual youth baseball league opening day parade.

MOSES LAKE — Despite all the rain clouds still hanging around, spring really is here. And that means it’s time to play ball.

The Moses Lake Youth Baseball opens its season Saturday with the annual parade and opening ceremonies. The Dick Kelly Memorial Youth Day Parade starts at 10 a.m., with teams gathering in the parking lot at the Surf ‘n Slide Water Park. For 2017 there are 36 baseball teams (450 boys) and 37 softball teams (416 girls), said Tom Los, recreation supervisor for Moses Lake Parks and Recreation.

The parade does the loop from Dogwood, down Third Avenue to Alder, then Fourth Avenue back to the water park. The youth day parade will celebrate its 60th anniversary, one of those traditions that’s been around so long nobody remembers how it started. Team members dress up in their uniforms; coaches, parents and kids decorate a vehicle, the team piles in and everybody joins the parade.

Kids are encouraged to show their team spirit along the route, and one boys team and one girls team with the most spirit will win some pizza.

The pizza is courtesy of Domino’s, Los said. For 2017 the committee that oversees the annual Springfest celebration will kick in an extra surprise for the two winning teams, Los said.

The parade will be followed by the opening ceremony at 11 a.m. at the Larson playfields. That too is a tradition, and part of that tradition is the participation of the Moses Lake High School baseball and softball teams.

It’s tradition that each team is introduced and runs around the bases, slapping hands with the MLHS baseball and softball teams as they make the circuit.

The late Ed Rhoades of Ephrata will be recognized as the 2017 Grand Marshal, with the award accepted by his wife Nancy and son Mike. Rhoades, a longtime official in youth sports around the Columbia Basin, passed away in 2015.

“He was extremely knowledgeable, truly cared for those he worked with on the field, always focusing on their potential and encouraging their efforts,” according to the information from the youth baseball and softball associations. “Ed had a true passion for youth sports and would do anything he could to make them flourish.”

Games start after the opening ceremonies, Los said.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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