MOOSIC — Baseball season in Northeastern Pennsylvania is still 12 days away and the home opener for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders is 19 days from now.
But fans of the team and the sport got a taste of spring and baseball on Saturday at PNC Field as the team hosted Family Fest, an event where more than a thousand fans showed up at the ballpark for the first day single game tickets were available for purchase and to take in many free events.
“We want today to be like a preseason game, to kick it off a little bit,” RailRiders president and general manager Rob Crain said. “Today’s just about having fun getting people thinking about baseball and start thinking spring. And the more times you can use the ballpark for family events, the better.”
With sunshine, temperatures in the 50s and spring in the air, the Family Fest was held for four hours with most events held inside at the stadium’s Mohegan Sun Club. That’s where the featured event of the day was a meet-and-greet with Curious George, a popular children’s character from books and a television series on PBS.
If the lines were too long to wait for the popular monkey or there was time to spare in between one of his four time slots, there were plenty of other children’s activities. Children met with the three RailRiders’ mascots — Champ, Quills and Mr. IncrediBall — got their faces painted, received balloon animals and listened to a story read by WVIA personality Debby Konnick, otherwise known as “Debby, The Clubhouse Mom.”
“I want it to be a family atmosphere. You feel like it’s the community’s thing. That this is what we do, and families are the key because baseball is such a generational game,” Crain added. “You create these memories. We feel like this is our duty to provide that.”
While the focus of the four-hour event was children and family fun, there were plenty of activities for adults as well.
Tours of the home and visitors clubhouses and dugouts were held.
While the sales of season tickets is up from previous years, there are still seats available and fans had the opportunity to purchase and test out the view from seats at the field, which was named Ballpark of the Year by Ballpark Digest in November. Concession stands and the team store were also open for fans.
Crain said there will be another similar party to be held at PNC Field on April 1.