Saturday was all about baseball in Bonne Terre.
Opening day of the city’s baseball season began at 10 a.m. with a parade of 44 teams from seven leagues. Most teams decorated a float or road in a truck in the half-hour parade through the downtown area.
Brian Jordan Freeman’s family turned out to watch him ride by with his teammates in the Marlins.
“We’re watching our nephew, grandson and son,” said Brian’s aunt, Rachael Darnell of Desloge.
Darnell admitted there was another compelling attraction in the parade, which was part of the second annual Bonne Terre Baseball Association Event.
“Lots of candy!” she explained.
Her sentiment was echoed by other paradegoers who were showered with pounds of sweet-tarts and other small candies.
“I don’t like to see things go to waste!” joked Miletta Knob of Delta. Colo., as she darted into the road to gather a handful of candy.
Knob was visiting Dianne Ems of Bonne Terre, as were Lola Distel of Olathe, Colo., and Millie Schlappe of Delta, Colo. None of the women had any relatives in the parade, but enjoyed watching.
“I think it’s good they do things for kids to let them know they’re important,” Knob said. “I think this is great!”
Judges Cindy Driemeier, Ashley Arnold and Kim Arnold watched the parade from the corner of E. School and N. Division streets. After comparing their favorites and tallying votes, the judges awarded first place to the Bantam Cardinals, coached by Richard Missey. Second place went to the Bantam Sidewinders and third place went to the Intermediate Girls Racers.
The first place team won a trophy for their flatbed trailer float that featured a tissue paper baseball and Dante the Old English Mastiff who wore a Cardinals hat and shirt.
“It took us four hours to make the float,” said 10-year-old Billy Farr. “It will probably take four hours to clean it up!”
Following the parade, ball players and family members headed to the ball field for the opening day games. The baseball association offered free activities including the Bounce House, Obstacle Course and Screaming Slide. Teams competed in tug-of-war and patrons bought tickets for the dunking booth to dunk umpires.
Organizers anticipated a much larger crowd than last year, said Marge Wegleitner, fundraising commissioner for the association.
“We have a lot more teams than last year,” she said. “We’ll probably have at least 1,500 people here.”