Following a winter most people are ready to forget, a sure sign of Spring is coming up this Saturday as St. Matthews Baseball and Softball stages its annual opening day parade and dedicates a long-awaited new facility.
The parade is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. at St. Matthews Baptist Church, 3515 Grandview Ave., and will move across Breckinridge Lane and down Shelbyville Road before arriving at St. Matthews Community Center Park for season-opening ceremonies. Immediately following, St. Matthews Mayor Bernie Bowling will cut the ribbon on new restrooms and a concessions facility that will serve three outlying fields.
Each year the parade features dozens of vehicles ranging from fire trucks to convertibles packed with baseball and softball players ranging from four to 15 years of age. Moms, dads and youth sports fans line the parade route to cheer for the players and enjoy the colorfully decorated parade vehicles.
While the parade is noted for an eclectic collection of vehicles, this yearâ€™s event will mark the first time an airplane joins the convoy. The Kentucky Air National Guard Mini-C-130, a scale replica of the C-130 Hercules aircraft flown by the men and women of the Louisville-based 123rd Airlift Wing, will take its place in the vehicle line.
The replica was built from scratch by the Airmen of the Kentucky Air Guardâ€™s 123rd Maintenance Squadron on a three-wheeled Cushman utility cart and is powered by a 27-horsepower motor.
Bowling will serve as this yearâ€™s grand marshal. Members of the Western Kentucky State Champion 11-year-old All-Stars will have the honor of riding on the paradeâ€™s lead fire truck.
During the parade, Shelbyville Road from Nanz Avenue to Ten Pin Lane will be blocked to vehicular traffic.
Opening ceremonies follow the parade on Community Center Parkâ€™s McCandless Field, where members of the Sons of the American Revolution, decked out in colonial army uniforms, will be joined by a Boy Scout honor guard to present the colors before Bowling throws out the first pitch.
The crowd will then move to the new concessions and restroom facility for the ribbon cutting. The new facility has been on the drawing board for three years and under construction since its approval by the St. Matthews City Council last fall. When complete, it will serve players and fans at three fields located away from the center of the park. The distance from those fields had been an ongoing problem for the league.
St. Matthews Baseball and Softball is entering its 61st season and will offer recreational opportunities to an estimated 1,000 players in 2014. Leagues are offered from Spring through Fall. The league is affiliated with Cal Ripken baseball through age 12 and Babe Ruth for baseball ages 13 and up and for softball. The league hosts competitive baseball leagues throughout the year.