Cape League teams connect with communities at Fourth of July parades

Parades across the Cape showcase community bond with Cape Cod Baseball League teams

Five Cape Cod Baseball League teams participated in their towns' parades to celebrate the Fourth of July. Alongside thousands of people in each town, Cape League players and staff members from Chatham, Orleans, Bourne, Hyannis and Cotuit immersed themselves throughout their communities.

For people in these communities, there is a strong sense of connection to their baseball team. Whether it was giving a loud ovation as their floats passed by, asking players for autographs or preparing for a game later in the day, communities were thrilled to welcome Cape League teams at their celebrations.

“I think it’s invaluable, they’re a big part of the community,” said Tim Sweeney, a fourth-year Orleans Parade judge and the owner of The Sparrow Store, of the Orleans Firebirds’ involvement in the Orleans community.

Beginning at 10 a.m. at Eldredge Park, an Orleans Parade record 43 floats began making their rounds around the town. But long before the parade started, Jan Smith, a second-year Orleans Parade judge, said the community work the Firebirds have contributed to would only be made possible with the host families.

In the few weeks since players have begun living with their host families, they have made a tremendous impact in the community both on and off the field. After Orleans’ game versus Chatham on Wednesday night, fans started setting up their chairs around the outside of the field in preparation for the parade. Nearly 12 hours later from 10-11:30 a.m., Orleans’ annual Fourth of July Parade was in full swing.

“It’s a wonderful thing for the town of Orleans,” said Barbara Wigren, a fellow fourth-year Orleans Parade judge.

The annual parade held by Bourne also received an outpouring of local support. Thousands of people showed up along Main Street in Buzzards Bay for the 10 a.m. parade, just across the Bourne Bridge.

For Bourne department firefighter Jonathan Ross, the parade this year was extra special. Hours before the crowd arrived, Ross prepared the fire department's vehicles, ensuring each truck was ready for the show. He also took part in the parade, which he described as a surreal feeling.

“I never expected to be doing this stuff, it's pretty cool that everyone comes out and supports each other,” Ross said.

The back-to-back Cape Cod League champion Bourne Braves were met with loud cheers as they made their way through Main Street. Hoisting their championship trophies, spectators and participants applauded and clamored as the Braves passed. Players threw candies to everyone who made it to the Independence Day celebration.

Mark and Linda Meehan, residents of the Bourne area, arrived early for the parade. They are longtime Braves fans and spoke about how they always enjoy watching their team participate in the July Fourth procession.

“We love seeing the Braves,” Linda said. “Everyone is here for the same reason. It’s (our) hometown.”

The consensus was seeing the involvement and engagement from not just the Braves, but the community itself was the best part of the ceremonial parade.

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Cotuit similarly rallies behind their town and their Kettleers. The team is “worshiped” as soon as they are atop their flatbed float, with shirts and goodies in hand, lines formed to speak to the Ketts and cheer on the local team.

Traffic volunteer Tom Welton estimates that thousands show up and line the streets as classic cars, local businesses and the Kettleers participate in the parade as they galavant down toward Lowell Park.

“It’s so good for the community,” said Jennifer Smith, a mother of two and summer resident of Cotuit. “I never have to worry about where my kids are at games or when the Kettleers are around.”

For the Cotuit residents, especially families with young children, the party did not stop the parade as Lowell Field had an adult hitting competition, a slip-n-slide, food, games and so much more, run by the Kettleers.

Kids could run around, race players on the slip-n-slide, jump in an inflatable bounce house, nab some Cotuit merchandise and interact with the team they cheer on.

“Especially on a day like today, Fourth of July, we have everything going on,” Cotuit photography intern Shleby Malouf said. “It just brings out a lot of people from all over the Cape.”

The team and its players do not just make an impact on the community, but it’s the other way around as well. Players, many of whom live with kids in their host families, form attachments and make connections with the families, children and other community members who flock to the games.

Cotuit middle infielder Temo Becerra (Stanford) appreciates the community that playing for the CCBL brings, especially on a holiday such as the Fourth of July.

“It's awesome because everyone out here loves baseball,” he said. “We get nice crowds out here, which is nice. And there's been a couple of great interactions with kids. I mean, there's a lot of kids so it's been fun.”

A town over, the Hyannis Harbor Hawks followed in their celebrations in the form of three separate parades. The Fourth of July celebrations on Cape Cod, particularly in towns like Hyannis and Cotuit, are vibrant and deeply rooted in community spirit. These celebrations are a hallmark of the summer season, embodying the essence of small-town America.

For the Harbor Hawks, their multiple parades are a testament to the enthusiasm and dedication of the local community. Across the board, these celebrations are more than just a display of patriotism; they are a cherished tradition that brings together locals and tourists alike. The Fourth of July on Cape Cod sparks communities with a shared sense of pride and joy.

Streets are lined with American flags, homes are decorated in red, white and blue, and the air is filled with laughter, music and the crackle of fireworks. It’s a time for locals and these players to connect, highlighting the strong support for the Cape Cod Baseball League.

The presence of these teams across the communities demonstrates their role as more than just athletes — they are a key factor within the community, through interacting with fans, signing autographs and participating in activities, creating lasting memories for the young and old fans alike.

The Fourth of July celebrations on Cape Cod reflect the region's unique culture and close-knit community. They serve as a reminder of the importance of coming together, celebrating shared values and creating traditions that will continue through generations.

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Photographs by Maddie Carpentiere and Nola Gallagher