York County businesses throw weight behind Little Leaguers going to World Series
Sunday is typically the busiest day of the week for Reeser's Soft Ice Cream.
This past Sunday, however, around dinner time, the Newberry Township business was extra slow. Then, around 8 p.m., business was booming again.
The uncharacteristically slow period had one simple reason: Many folks in northern York County were staying inside on Sunday afternoon to watch the Red Land Little League team earn an historic victory on television. The local outfit clinched the Mid-Atlantic Regional title and booked a spot into this week's Little League World Series in South Williamsport. It's the first time a team from York County will represent the region in the LLWS.
"We do 40 percent of our business on Sundays," Reeser's owner Don Reeser said. "But, the minute that game was over, people showed up and they were covered in Red Land regalia."
Local support: That support should only grow over the next week, as Red Land's profile continues to escalate on a national level. The boys from northern York County quickly made their marks on opponents at the state and regional level. The team possesses an explosive offense and a stingy defense, continually crushing long home runs while rarely giving up runs.
At home, the team's success has inspired people from all over central Pennsylvania to throw their support behind the squad.
For some people in the area, this team resonates with them for much more than just being the local kids. Newberrytown native Dale Hauze, 38, has a close connection with the players on the team after growing up with many of their parents, so he finds enjoyment in seeing their kids have success and wants to try to go to South Williamsport to support them.
"I think it's pretty amazing," Hauze said. "I want to, I just don't know if we're going to have the time to. But I wouldn't mind heading up."
Bus trips: It's not uncommon for Pennsylvania teams to be represented at the LLWS, but it's somewhat rare that a team in close proximity to South Williamsport, such as Red Land, is a participant. The two-hour commute should allow for hundreds, if not thousands, of area fans to invade South Williamsport and support Red Land.
Bus trips were planned earlier in the week and sold out rapidly. The company that supplies buses to the West Shore School District — the district where many of the Red Land players attend school — provided two buses for Friday's game. Within hours, both were sold out.
Other large groups around the area are planning to make the trip north, taking advantage of a favorable weekend schedule that sees Red Land playing its first two games on Friday and then either Saturday or Sunday. According to Reeser, just through posts on social media, he's seeing groups as large as 60 people organizing bus trips for Friday's game, while Hauze says even if he can't make it to Williamsport, his extended family will.
"My family is going to go up and they're from the Mechanicsburg area," he said. "They originally lived in Valley Green and then moved out of the area, but they were involved with the Little League and the midget football association."
Local love: Go for a drive in northern York County and you'll be sure to come across local businesses displaying their support for Red Land.
Numerous companies, such as Maple Donuts, Two Brothers Italian Grill and the Red Land Community Library in Newberry Township, have signs outside their establishments congratulating the team and wishing the boys good luck. Meanwhile, other businesses, such as Rock-It Pizza, Reeser's and Darrenkamp's Markets, are taking their support for the team a step further by finding ways to use their products to benefit the team.
Before the team left for Bristol, Connecticut, for the Mid-Atlantic Regional, Rock-It Pizza donated 50 pizzas, while Darrenkamp's donated several hundred hamburgers and hot dogs for the team and their families.
"Forty-nine years of being in business in this township, and grew up here all my life, I've become very successful," said Rock-It Pizza owner Bob Conley. "So, I want to give back to the community. They all come here and give to me, and so you have to give back."
Conley also had a sign made for the team's state championship victory that hangs at the Red Land Little League fields behind Newberry Elementary School. He's planning on having another sign made to put outside his business once the team's tournament run ends to advertise that this is the home of the Red Land Little League World Series team. Conley said he's already made plans to take his grandson, Skyler, 13, up to Williamsport to watch Friday's game. Skyler is friends with many of the players on the team and plays with them during the regular season.
Sundae: While Rock-It and Darrenkamp's donated food, Reeser's named a sundae after the team. Now on the menu is the Little Leaguer banana split, which is a banana with vanilla ice cream, topped with strawberry and blueberry sauces, whipped cream and red, white and blue sprinkles. Every time a customer buys a Little Leaguer, $1 will go toward a donation that will be given to the Red Land Little League. Reeser's also is accepting separate donations. Reeser said that after just two hours of the promotion, which began Monday, more than $60 was raised. He said the reasoning behind the promotion came from the "burden of success."
"A banana split always goes along with the idea of baseball," Reeser said. "And we thought if we could do something with red, white and blue — Red Land's colors, so strawberries, blueberries, marshmallow, whipped cream and then put sprinkles on top that are also red, white and blue — then it's a great homage to the team."
By the time Red Land returns home from South Williamsport, it'll be nearly a month since they were home. The level of support that they're receiving probably has yet to register with them but should be on full display for the team's first game on Friday night.
The community has shown its support for the team during this run and will be proud no matter how it ends. However, the local businesses should expect at least a few more nights of slow business while fans flock to South Williamsport or their televisions to watch. That's perfectly all right with them.
"I think you're going to see a lot of people locally go (to Williamsport)," Reeser said. "And I anticipate it to be slow around here. ... And we're glad to see that. We'd rather lose a day of business to see them supporting a local team."
— Reach Patrick Strohecker at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow on Twitter @P_Strohecker