They filter into the still dewy outfield of the Garr Pony field an hour before the parade is to begin. Team banners tell them where to stand, but good luck with that. In tiny uniforms, with their faces painted and wearing Mardi Gras beads that jangle around their necks, the little ones chase each other, pausing only to slap the outstretched paw of a teenager wearing a high school mascot's costume. Music blares from a loudspeaker. Paige Fielden, Margaret Bryant and other moms impose order and, somehow, the parade begins. It snakes out of Garr, down the stairs, behind and back up the other stairs next to the Dowis building. Teams march proudly behind their coaches onto the Jane Wilkins Bronco Field. Balloons and red, white and blue bunting are everywhere, thanks to NYO's moms.
That's how it goes on Opening Day, always a special day at NYO. But this Saturday, March 19, Opening Day will be extra special. And bittersweet. For it will be the last time Jane Wilkins presides as our executive director. After more than 35 years, Miss Jane is retiring. She agreed to stay on through this spring until her successor, Tony Watkins, could fulfill his duties at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School. To honor Miss Jane, NYO is staging a homecoming of sorts at noon, immediately after the Opening Day ceremonies. A giant tent will be pitched in the main parking lot. If you've ever been or are an NYO player, volunteer, coach, team parent or family member, you're invited, as are all friends of Jane. So, that's pretty much everyone!
(To read more, please click on the headline)