BCAC Opening Day!

 BCAC Opening Day!

By Dan Guarino

A little rain, or a lot of earlier rain, couldn’t dampen the spirits of the hundreds of children, parents, families and friends who came out to join in the Broad Channel Athletic Club’s Opening Day parade and festivities celebrating the start of their baseball program on Saturday, April 20.

“We’re excited to start another season!” said BCAC President Joe Traegler. “We didn’t want to cancel the day, despite the weather.”

The young ballplayers came by car and carriage and foot, with baseball gloves, bats, raincoats and umbrellas. Dressed in bright, colorful new uniforms, they and their families started gathering at 17th Road Park at 9:15 a.m. Excitement and energy were high as children greeted friends, met new ones, ran around, played games, and splashed in puddles before the parade kicked off at about 9:45 a.m. The rain had largely stopped by the time they stepped off.

Led by a color guard from Broad Channel American Legion Post 1404, the parade stretched for several blocks as it made its way northward along Cross Bay Blvd. NYPD 100th Precinct officers provided an escort and cleared traffic as the gathering passed each intersection. A bright red Broad Channel Volunteer Fire Department fire engine brought up the rear of the procession.

Many players laughed and joked, while other teammates held hands along the way and some children rode on parents’ shoulders. Families, as well as coaches and BCAC volunteers, wore matching uniforms with their children. Here and there a family dog joined the parade. Carriages, strollers and wagons were also pushed and pulled along. Onlookers clapped and waved from the curb as all passed by. Other players and families joined in along the way.

The grand march made a swift left turn toward the BCAC Memorial Field, about one mile distant from where the parade’s starting point, just shy of East 1st Road.

As all gathered on the field, President Traegler greeted the crowd. He thanked the many people who made the day possible, including the BCAC Board members, coaches, commissioners, and volunteers, the American Legion veteran color guard, NYPD, parents, families, and local business team sponsors. “And to all our players,” he said, “this is your game today!”

Councilmember Joann Ariola led the crowd in a chant of “Let’s Play Ball!” and threw out one of the first pitches. Coaches and helpers then took their teams, ranged by age, to separate playing areas to get in some games along with pitching and catching practice and learning some of basics. For the youngest players, this included a volunteer for each child to help the little ones learn skills like batting and running in the right direction towards the bases.

Before noon skies were clearing and turning to blue. Later on, CYO teams were scheduled to play their first games.

Founded in 1961, the BCAC hosts a variety of sports activities for boys and girls all year-round including football, baseball, softball, soccer, basketball and swimming.

A mom summed up Saturday’s festivities as the parade reached the field, “Here we go! BCAC! Happy Opening Day!”

Photos by Dan Guarino

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