WESTPORT, Conn. – Thousands of cheering fans packed downtown Westport on Monday evening for a parade honoring the town's 12U All Stars Little League team, which returned home Sunday from the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., and the 10-11 girls’ softball team, which won the state championship in July.
Fans of all ages—many of whom sported signs, “Go Westport” inflatable clappers, and New England regional shirts and hats— gathered along Main Street, Taylor Place and around Jesup Green, cheering and clapping as members of both teams rode by atop flatbed trucks.
“This is so awesome,” 7-year-old Kyle Tanner said before the parade started. “I saw every game on TV and now I get to see them in real life. I think they’re all so cool.”
Once they reached Jesup Green, both teams gathered on the Levitt Pavilion stage for a formal celebration, featuring town, state and federal officials, including U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.
Westport First Selectman Gordon Joseloff kicked off the ceremony, praising both teams.
“This is a historic day for Westport,” Joseloff said. “No matter how you measure it, this day, and the accomplishments of these youngsters, will certainly be an important new entry in the Westport history book.”
The girls’ softball victory, which came after the team defeated Enfield, 16-0, is the first Little League title for the Westport softball program.
“There are young girls in this audience who will always remember that you were the first team to win a state championship,” state Sen. John McKinney told the girls. “There will never be another first state champion.”
The 12U Little League All Stars’ journey to the World Series began after clinching the state title. The team then went on to win the New England regional championships.
Although it didn’t win the World Series title, the team placed second in the U.S. and fourth internationally.
“Boys, you made Westport proud,” Joseloff said. “People who never watched or understood baseball were watching you and bursting with pride. You became our champs early on and will always be Westport’s champions.”
Blumenthal incited an uproar of cheers and applause from the crowd when he came up to speak.
“These guys may be No. 4 in the world and No. 2 in the nation, but in my book, they’re No. 1,” he said.
Blumenthal praised the team members for the way they worked together and never quit. He also saluted the coaches, managers and community for helping mold the team.
“They didn’t become a team by accident,” Blumenthal said. “It took great coaches, and we thank you. It also took a great community.”
During the ceremony, Joseloff presented Westport Little League Baseball President Carl McNair with a proclamation declaring Aug. 26 as Westport Little League Day.