Albany Little League parade rings in springtime

This morning I was sleepily reading in the recently opened and very nice Café Sainte Honoré on the corner of San Pablo and Solano in Albany (for those not familiar with the East Bay, that’s just north of Berkeley) when I was roused by police sirens. Through the windows I could see a large crowd at least two blocks long coming down Solano, led by police and fire vehicles. They were proceeding at such a funereal pace that I thought at first it had something to do with yesterday’s huge funeral of four Oakland police officers.

But as the crowd — demonstration? religious rite? — grew closer, I saw all the kids. And then I realized it was the town’s Little League parade.

In my hometown of Edwardsville, Ill., the Little League parade was one of the big events of the year. At least it seemed so to me when I was 9 years old. But we really did parade down Main Street for a mile and a half to the main Little League diamond, and it was a larger parade than Albany’s — one of the years I participated there were 60 teams, ranging in age from 8 to 15, with even the youngest players suited in full wool flannel uniforms. The day was made extra-special because it was that morning that the adults passed out the caps — because they were afraid that if they passed them out in advance, along with the uniforms, the kids would lose them and not look sharp for the parade.

The Albany Little League parade was smaller, and showed rather less emphasis on looking sharp, I must say; uniforms were more informal, and in Edwardsville the idea that your team would actually shuffle along such that it would mix with the other teams would have been unthinkable. But Albany’s parade had its charms, chief of which were the girls’ teams with names like the Atomic Sweeties, the Racoons, the Purple Panthers, and the Mighty Molars — the last sponsored, no doubt, by a dentist.

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