By Mark Hallum
The Bayside Little League parade drew families out to the sidewalks of Bell Boulevard Saturday to kick off the new season with elected officials and businesses sponsoring teams from around northeast Queens.
City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) was looking forward to the season coaching the St. Andrew Avelino team, which was set to play its first game later that day. His son plays for the team.
“You know spring is here when you’re doing the Bayside Little League parade up Bell Boulevard,” Vallone said, explaining how his office takes part in sponsoring teams and securing permits for the event. “Probably the most important thing is we got $2 million for brand new fields at the Crocheron Fields, so we’re pushing for Parks to get that into Design and Construction.”
Little Leaguers began their march at 11 a.m. from 43rd Avenue, where officers from the 111th Precinct ceremoniously set aside wooden barriers blocking traffic onto Bell. Led by a marching band, along with Vallone and state Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside), children accompanied by parents made their way to 35th Avenue where they continued east to Crocheron Park. U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) was also in attendance.
“It is always fun to march in the Bayside Little League Parade,” Braunstein said. “As a former player myself, I remember the anticipation of starting a new season. I want to thank Bob Reid, the 111th Precinct, and all of the volunteers who work to keep this tradition going.”
Players carried banners bearing their sponsors, prominent businesses in the community and one for state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside).
Reid, the commissioner of Bayside Little League, was eager to speak about the boys who joined the parade to play their first game of the season and the crowd turnout.
“I’m very excited about this year, we have a lot of young Little Leaguers,” Reid said as he voiced concern that children were not getting involved in sports like generations past. “A lot of kids just don’t come out to play sports. Lots of kids stay in the house and play video games. Throughout youth baseball the numbers of players have been dropping over a number of years. We need parents to push them out there to play sports.”
Reid has enthusiastically been a part of the Bayside charter for over 30 years, first getting involved in 1986 before becoming commissioner in 1991.
Bayside Little League has been in the community since 1953 and has 27 teams.
Reid will be honored with the New York State Liberty Medal in July, a recommendation that came from Avella.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall