Swelling with Little League crowds and traditions, Williamsport welcomes joys of summer

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It’s late August, and that means one thing for residents in and around Williamsport, Pennsylvania: the Little League World Series is in town.

For nearly seven decades, teams from around the world have descended on this small city with hopes of leaving as a champion. It’s a tradition many neighbors there welcome with open arms.

It all starts well before the first pitch — Wednesday morning, to be exact.

That’s when rainbows of foldout chairs begin appearing along Fourth Street in downtown Williamsport, a short drive from where all the games are played.

Around 11 a.m., Lisa Angelo and her young niece staked out their spots near a stationery store.

“Then we go home for a little bit, have some lunch, and then come back about 3, 3:30 and watch people and wait for the parade,” said Angelo.

That’s the annual Little League World Series parade, an old-timey celebration showcasing the 16 teams in the series — and Williamsport.

Angelo has cherished this time of year since childhood. Every year, she takes off work to take in the tournament.

“We’re over there almost every day and every night,” she said.

That night, as cheerleaders from Williamsport High School passed by her on the parade route, longtime resident Kelly Anderson said she enjoys the 35,000 people who briefly double the town’s population each summer.

“You get to see all of the different teams and visit with all of the different cultures that come to our area because this area does not have a lot of culture in it,” said Anderson.

Local businesses also look forward to this time of year

John Yogodzinski, who owns Converge Gallery, planned for it specifically. He extended the run of an abstract art exhibit because he knew there’d be more eyeballs during the Little League World Series.

“Typically in the gallery world, summers are slow. It’s weird in Williamsport because summer is big for first Friday. The weather is nice. There’s tons of people in town, and we also have the Little League which brings tons of people,” said Yogodzinski.

The crowds are also music to Kurt Kane’s ears. He owns Long Island Pizza, an enormous black-and-white checkered space inside a strip mall.

“We are set up for volume because this is based on a New York City shop where I’m from, and I’m kind of just used to the crowds. I love it. I thrive on it. It’s my adrenaline,” said Kane.

Inside the Alabaster Coffee Roaster and Tea Company, owner Karl Fischer said extra people bring some headaches such as traffic, but that’s just part of the tradition – one residents still get excited about.

“That’s the great thing about traditions. You know, when you can find something that’s regular that you can find comfort in, that you enjoy — why wouldn’t you want to repeat those things?” said Fisher.

This year’s Little League World Series champion will be crowned Sunday.

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