TUNKHANNOCK — Still ecstatic over its run during the Little League Softball World Series, the Tunkhannock softball team was welcomed back by its hometown fans with a parade down East Tioga Street on Saturday. Approximately 1,000 supporters lined the mile-long parade route to celebrate the runners-up.
It was not quite the championship parade that Tunkhannock had hoped for prior to losing 3-0 to Ohio in Wednesday night’s title game. But it was still very much a celebration.
“We wanted to show the girls that we are really proud of them,” said Clifteena Furman, of Mehoopany, who came with granddaughter Lola Casselbury. “It was exciting. Everyone in town was so happy. It was just a good feeling.”
Team manager Tim Hannon couldn’t talk enough about his players.
“You can’t put into words how proud I am of these girls,” Hannon said. “They’re an outstanding group of softball players but, even more, they are an outstanding group of kids.”
The team rode in the parade in an antique Triton Hose Company fire truck. Their parents followed two vehicles later in a flatbed truck.
Parade-goers began setting up lawn chairs more than an hour prior to the start of the procession.
The borough was donned in black and orange to honor the girls. Residents decorated their homes with orange-and-black balloons. Downtown businesses, like Curry Donuts, affixed the names of each player on glass panes.
Twigs Cafe wrote “#throwlikeagirl” outside of its restaurant.
And a group of Tunkhannock teenagers created a handmade, life-sized Beyonce sign that read: “Who runs the world? Girls.”
“It was amazing,” shortstop Ella McNeff said. “I was not expecting it to be this good.”
Some of the girls took the loss pretty hard, according to Hannon. He said the parade lifted many of his players’ spirits and showed them the impact they made in Wyoming County.
“It’s phenomenal,” Hannon said. “I told these kids that the effect that they had on the community was bigger than the effect that they had as softball players. They were able to get an entire community to stick together, to bond together for the last couple of weeks by rooting them on.”
‘More than I ever imagined’
The team’s World Series run was in large part supported by Tunkhannock community members and businesses. A GoFundMe page raised more than $32,000 for the team’s expenses throughout the summer-long tournament.
“It was really fun,” player Alexis Gilroy said. “I feel like we should be giving back to the community for everything that they have done for us.”
Hannon said his team was aware via social media of the growing support they were receiving at home while they played in Oregon.
Fans flocked to the Dietrich Theater for viewing parties featuring the semifinal and championship games. The 215-seat historic movie theater was sold out for the final, and kids had to sit on the floor. The Tunkhannock softball team even received support from Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey on Twitter.
“Tunkhannock is one of the best small towns you’re going to find,” Hannon said. “The community, local support is more than I ever imagined. “
Tunkhannock player Piper Robinson added, “I don’t think I am ever going to have a team that is this amazing.”
The Tunkhannock Area High School marching band joined Pennsylvania State Police and local police, emergency and firefighters during Saturday’s parade.