Saturday morning may have started out gloomy, but hundreds of Hamilton and Wenham youth certainly didn't notice.
Children from 40 teams spread over five different leagues took to the streets, in the annual Hamilton-Wenham Little League Opening Day parade. The kids traversed more than one mile, starting from the Buker Elementary School onto Perkins Street, down Main Street, left onto Railroad Avenue and finishing on Union Street. The procession was led by fire engines and police cruisers from both towns and antique cars.
The ceremony - emceed by Hamilton-Wenham Little League President Len Dolan - on the crisp looking, beautifully manicured field began with a baton twirling routine by Winthrop Elementary School third-grader Samantha Bucci (also a baseball player). The graduating 12-year-old players were introduced and ran through a "tunnel" of Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School baseball players, who slapped their hands as they passed. The Generals took part in the parade, too, for the first time.
Dolan then honored Joanne Patton with a baseball shirt with her name and the number 1 on the back. Patton is in the process of gifting 27 acres of her land to the town for fields, access to the river and recreational use. Patton also threw out the first pitch.
"The gift Mrs. Patton is giving is tremendous," Dolan said.
Then, on Dolan's instructions, everyone yelled "Play Ball," signifying the start of the 2012 season. Eight-year-old Harry Sostek, a second-grader at Buker Elementary played a drum solo as Dolan finished the festivities.
"It was a great (morning)," Dolan said. "This is the way (this event) has been for years. Everyone comes out for it."