Tunkhannock does Memorial Day right.
From the baseball and softball games, to the traditional chicken barbecue, to the community parade, the hometown feeling of American values is on display.
After a successful first year, the Tunkhannock Little League will be hosting the second annual Tunkhannock Little League Quest for the Cup tournament at Keefer and Robinson fields on Sunnyside Road.
For 61 years, little league games have been hosted on these fields.
The cup format will follow along the same lines as last season, with the only difference being the process in which game opponents were chosen.
“With the weather this season, we just haven’t gotten enough games in,” said tournament chairman Nick Aiello. “We didn’t have enough stats for seeding. We had to come up with an alternate way to schedule the games. So we looked at game play, and based it on head to head. There is a lot of parity this season, so we also looked at who plays who hard.”
At the end of the games on Monday, there will be a Championship Cup for the winning team’s sponsor to hold and proudly display for bragging rights for the year. The Cup will then go on to the next year’s winner at each subsequent tournament.
In the minors division, early round games will begin on Thursday, May 23, at 6 p.m. on both fields.
The majors’ preliminary brackets will kick off on Friday, May 24, at 6 p.m. as Gay’s Hardware will face Bartron’s Supply on Robinson Field.
At 7 p.m., on Kiefer Field, Tunkhannock Ford will see Sherwood Chevrolet in a battle of the dealerships.
Though Aiello pointed out that he conferred with all four managers, he wanted to stress that this is a tentative schedule.
From there, the majors championship game will be held on Monday, May 27, on Keifer field at 1 p.m., while the minors consolation game occurs on Robinson at the same time.
At 3 p.m., the minors championship will run on Keifer field while the majors consey game is on Robinson.
All participants will get a medal, but the first place team will get gold, second silver, and third bronze.
“In Little League the first four teams in the tournament (at the end of the season) get medals. We are just copying that model. If we end up with more teams in the future, we will stick to the first four,” explained Aiello at the beginning of 2018’s tournament.
This year’s medals, according to Aiello, are much more aesthetically pleasing than those handed out last year.
“We had a little more time to prepare this time, so we got nice orange and black ones that are engraved for each place,” said Aiello.
Boasting something for everyone, the girls’ teams will also be hosting softball games this Memorial Day at the Baumgartner Sports Complex.
According to softball commissioner Joy Howell, there will be a minors game at 2:30 p.m. and a majors game at 6 p.m.
Of course, no Memorial Day celebration in Tunkhannock would be complete without the annual Chicken barbecue fundraiser. Back for it’s 59th year, the BBQ is still going strong.
Brian Astegher, who is in charge of the Memorial Day festivities, said, “We are shooting for around 3100 chicken halves this year. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.”
“We will have some chicken dinners available the morning and afternoon of the barbecue,” said Astegher. “We usually have people come up and ask for an extra dinner, or maybe they missed the presale tickets and want to support our league. People always want to get in on it.”
There is still time to see a player or board member for dinner tickets.
Players have pre-sale tickets, and the tickets are also on sale inside Gay’s Hardware. Aiello has some tickets on hand as well, and can be contacted on his cell phone at 570-240-6437.
The dinners are still $8 and include a chicken half, homemade baked beans, homemade pepper hash, a roll, and a beverage.
This year’s chicken will be supplied by Weis market. “We are trying to keep everything coming from our local community. The Triton Hose Company volunteers have made our beans and pepper hash sides for years,” Aiello pointed out.
Pepper hash, instead of coleslaw, is a vinegar based side and doesn’t include mayonnaise. Astegher explained it was a better option for storing the sides before sales.
The parents, coaches, and board members will start preparing the pits on Sunday night around midnight. The massive effort is carefully managed, and cooking begins around 1:30 a.m. The second shift of volunteers will arrive around 6 a.m. for reinforcement.
About 8 a.m. on Monday, Bob Barkley will begin packaging all the dinners with his team of volunteers.
“One thing that makes the packing miserable is the rain, so let’s all try to keep it away. We are fortunate to have a Triton tent,” said Barkley, a self admitted Little League lifer.
“We have supreme effort from tons of volunteers. Everyone kicks in,” praised Aiello.
Finally, the town will also have a parade on Tioga Street in town.
The parade starts at 10 a.m. from Tunkhannock High School access road, continues on to Tioga Street and finds its way to the courthouse.
All organizations are welcome to join in the fun and be a part of the festivities.
“Sherwood Chevrolet has graciously offered to provide trucks to organizations who want to participate in the parade, but don’t have a truck,” said Aiello. “Call Sherwoods, or me, and we will get you in touch with the right people.”