The forecast last Sunday called for rain, wind and a chance at some severe weather.
Instead, we got decorated trucks filled with kids who were raining candy down on spectators during the Tinley Park Bulldogs baseball and softball opening day parade and ceremonies.
Teams gathered in the Subway parking lot on Oak Park Avenue and finished putting all the pieces of their handywork in place. Floats ranged from a mock leftfield pole from Wrigley Field in Chicago to a bird's nest that symbolized the Orioles and even a Yankees concession stand. A Bulldog dog house was created by our 13U Travel Softball team.
Even as winds gusted at more than 20 miles per hour, flags and balloons decorated our teams' floats. At noon, the Tinley Park Fire Department sounded the alarm on Fire Truck Co. No. 204 and the Color Guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2791 led the way north on Oak Park Avenue. Our softball teams followed and then baseball teams—from T-ball through Pony—finished the parade.
Teams arriving at the field complex gathered on Guenzi Field and were met by the Bulldogs mascot, Boomer, the WindyCity Thunderbolts mascot, and the Odyssey Fun World mascot, Chipper. The ceremony started with the Pledge of Allegience and the Star Spangled Banner. There was a moment of silence for Bob Oehmen, a member of the VFW who had passed away in November.
Once the board members were recognized, the ceremonial first pitch was thrown—this year, by Abby Skarbek. Abby has been a Bulldogs softball player and was diagnosed in 2011 with leukemia in 2011. (Read about Abby's story here.
Commissioner Chris Hupe then dedicated our T-Ball field and announced its renaming as "Patriot Field" in honor of those who have served our country. Mayor Ed Zabrocki was on hand during the dedication. He also threw a ceremonial pitch to commemorate the occasion.
Finally, the annual award winners were announced and recognized. Winners of this year's awards were:
- John Brown Award: Pat Rzab
- Bonnie Tholl Award: Catherine Roman
- Joe O'Dette Award: John Ericks Jr.
Raffle winners were announced.
Concluding the opening ceremonies, Commissioner Hupe thanked everyone for participating in the day's events and gave the token announcement necessary at the start of every baseball and softball season — "Play ball!"