In a park that has been the site of Ferguson demonstrations and Israel and Palestine protests, hundreds of Philadelphians gathered to welcome home a Little League Baseball team.
The Taney Dragons lost Thursday just one win shy of the national championship game in the Little League World Series, but on Sunday the team returned home to a rally in their honor at LOVE Park.
Among the crowd were young children, especially, girls in their high socks and baseball and softball shirts and reflective glasses waving signs and sports magazines with markers clipped to the covers.
Bob and Carol O'Hare, of Flourtown, attended the rally because they thought the 12 kids, especially star pitcher Mo'Ne Davis, were terrific role models.
"And a bright bit of sunshine in the midst of so much going wrong in the world," Carol said.
Bob added: "I think we're all hungry for something positive and for throwing down these guns. … Trading your gun for a Little League baseball bat would be fine."
The team, which plays at the Anderson Rec Center in Center City, caught national attention for its climb from Center City to the third best Little League team in the nation.
And in celebration of their feat, a parade will take place on Wednesday, Mayor Michael Nutter said Sunday.
"We still have some details still to work out," Nutter said. "But on Wednesday in Philadelphia there will be a champions parade for the Taney Dragons."
They were a team of firsts: first city team to compete in Williamsport; Mo'Ne became the first girl to pitch a shutout in the World Series, and the first Little Leaguer to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated.
"They did a hell of a good job," said Stephanie Davis, of South Philadelphia. "They should be proud of themselves."
"One girl on the team? Whoa! She's bad!" Davis deadpanned.
Manager Alex Rice said that for the entire journey - from Philadelphia to Bristol, Connecticut, to Williamsport — the good feelings and positive vibes from Philadelphia followed them.
"We felt the love," he said.
Rice posed a question to his players Sunday: "What did you most appreciate and enjoy from your last two weeks in Williamsport?"
Outfielder Tai Shanahan: "Getting to meet all of the amazing players."
Shortstop Jared Sprague-Lott: "Playing for all of the fans right here today."
Outfielder Zion Spearman: "My favorite part was playing the best teams in the countries and meeting Ryan Howard."
Third basement Jack Rice: "Probably the best part of the whole experience was playing on the field."
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