MADISON, NJ – It was a bright and sunny day on Saturday at the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building. Groups of kids clad in little league and softball uniforms descended on town hall, anxiously awaiting the start of the Madison Little League Parade.
More than 600 kids—with parents by their sides—marched down Kings Road to Green Village Road before reaching Main Street, throwing candy, roughhousing, laughing and smiling their way through downtown Madison as they passed dozens of local onlookers.
When the parade reached Greenwood Avenue, the marchers hung a left and proceeded to Dodge Field, where the event’s opening ceremony was held. Members of the Madison High School baseball team were on hand at the field’s Chapel Street entrance to welcome each young player on opening day.
The parade kicked off the little league’s 66th season and the softball league’s 45th. Officials remain unsure of when the parades first began, but Mayor Bob Conley said during last year’s event that he “remembered watching home movies of the parade in the 1960s.”
At Dodge Field, Conley and borough council member John Hoover stood near home base as Madison Little League President Ken Waer doled out his seasonal thank yous.
Gesturing to Conley and Hoover, Waer said, “Without these guys, this program would not possible. I can’t tell you what they do for us. It’s amazing.”
Volunteers and the Board of Directors also received praise on opening day for their efforts.
“Ken keeps telling me he gets calls from towns all around saying, ‘How do you do it?’ and that is very easy: dedication of the volunteers and leadership in both groups,” Conley said. “That’s how we do it.
Pastor Lou Paradiso of Madison Baptist Church offered the opening season prayer before Pat Lukasavage and his son, Jack, threw the first pitch of the season—a “double pitch” alongside Dawn Neville and Boe Braverman.
In his speech to little leaguers and parents, Conley thanked the Madison Department of Public Works for getting the fields ready during “a tough spring” of snow storms and other inclement weather.
He ended his comments by wishing each player well in the upcoming season and left them with a single reminder: “The way you keep score is by the friends you make on the field.”
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