Archive for July, 2008

Jul 05 2008

4th of July Parade & Fireworks

Published by Leroy Harwell Jr. under General

It doesn’t matter what day of the week the 4th of July falls on. What you can always be sure of is that it will always be boiling hot, look like rain, and that there will be absolutely, positively, the longest 4th of July parade in history. That parade is in Whiting, Indiana.

This year, with the help of the Hammond Parks Foundation, we entered one of our green trucks in the parade. Meagan McCormick, along with Tim and Rachel Vaught, helped us decorate our vehicle for a good forty-five minutes or so in the most patriotic-schemed way that we could. Joshua Innes, Dave’s 12 year-old son, helped out too – adding some corny one-liners in the process. You can be sure that the apple does not fall too far from the tree.

4th of July 2008   4th of July 2008   4th of July 2008

In between the ribbons, flags, Statue of Liberty images, and rolls and rolls of all the magic transparent tape, we tried to stay cool by drinking bottles of water. Finally, we were all very pleased with the way our vehicle looked. Dave Innes went over to the Calumet Clowns’ float – thinking that he had been invited to his own family reunion. Breathing a big sigh of relief, we were told by one of the parade workers, “Oh, by the way! You guys are number 101!”.

4th of July 2008   4th of July 2008

After the parade, it’s always a tradition to end the 4th of July with the great festivities at historic Harrison Park. The Naturalization ceremony, welcoming dozens of new Americans as they proudly take their oath of citizenship, is always a sight to behold. A prestigious event such as this makes all of us remember – and appreciate – the many freedoms and opportunities we have in this great country of ours, things that we, unfortunately, too often take for granted.

Bill Porter, and his orchestra, rounded out the evening with some Big Band/Swing music. Bill plays the trombone and conducts the orchestra. In fact, he was one of the original members of Bozo’s Big Top Band. He has accompanied some legendary singers like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Nat King Cole. He told Dave Innes many years ago that when he first met Frank Sinatra, it was Sinatra that actually saved Bill’s life.

4th of July 2008   4th of July 2008

The patented “Bill Porter” story goes like this: “I was putting my horn in the trunk after a late night gig,” Porter explained. “All of a sudden, ten guys came out of nowhere and jumped me. They kicked me, punched me, and threw me down to the pavement. After a few seconds, Sinatra opened the stage door and said, ‘All right, boys! That’s enough!’”

Harrison Park’s fireworks were awesome! Accompanied by some beautifully performed patriotic tunes, our skies were lit up with sparkles of true Americana!

Leroy Harwell, Jr.
Director of Recreation

Dave Innes
Assistant Director of Recreation

No responses yet

Jul 01 2008

My Day at the Railyard

Published by Leroy Harwell Jr. under General

Annually, the city of Hammond convenes at the “Rail-yard” in Gary, Indiana for Hammond Community Night to watch a Gary Railcats baseball game.  If my count is correct, this is year number five.  This year’s game was on Friday, June 20th.

The usual procedure for the Railcats game is to make sure Mayor McDermott gets to the game on time to throw out the First Pitch, then sit back, relax and enjoy a great game followed by post-game fireworks.  Piece of cake, right?

Not this year!!!!!

On Tuesday of game week, I get a call from the mayor’s secretary asking for a favor!  She needed me to throw out First Pitch on Friday because the mayor would be in Indianapolis.  Now I’ll be honest, I had heard through the grapevine that there was a chance the mayor would not be in town that weekend, but until it was confirmed I was not going to worry about it.  Well, let the worrying begin!!!!!

Like most kids, I had played little league baseball but I was not a pitcher – I was a smooth-fielding shortstop – so this was especially troubling because it would take me out of my comfort zone.

Well, after talking it over with my partner in the recreation department, Dave Innes, we decided the best course of action was to get some practice throws in before the game so that I wouldn’t embarrass the mayor and myself.  On Friday afternoon, we got a catcher’s glove and baseball out of our recreation supply room and proceeded to the Civic Center gym for a little “First Pitch” practice.  It actually went a lot smoother than expected.  In all, I threw about thirty pitches to Dave and felt pretty comfortable.  The big thing was making sure “nerves” didn’t affect my throw later that night at the Railyard.

I went home from work about 4:00 P.M. to try to take a little nap, but of course that wasn’t going to happen.  Between pool happenings and payroll questions, I got approximately 3 minutes of sleep!!!!

Needless to say, I was a bundle of nerves heading to the stadium that evening.  I arrived at the stadium with my mom, Stephanie, my daughter, Kennedi, and Dave, along with his wife Renee, and daughter Lauren.  I went to the information booth and was directed to the field hastily; they were looking for me!

100_3930_0007_007.jpg  100_3929_0008_008.jpg

As I get on the field under a light rain, I am handed a brand new shiny Railcats baseball for the pitch by Railcats Assistant General Manager Mike Smith.  As I’m heading to the mound for the pitch and being introduced by Tommy Williams (Railcats’ play-by play), he sees my name and thinks that I’m Leroy Harwell, Sr. (my dad and former varsity basketball coach at Hammond High for 23 years). Thanks a lot Tommy!!!!!  After ascending the mound, I do the traditional ball wave that’s always done by anyone I’ve ever seen throw out a first pitch.  The catcher, Anthony Esquer, assumes the position behind the plate.  The wind up and the pitch…..STRIKE!!!!!!

100_3911_0017_017.jpg  100_3912_0016_016.jpg

I never had any doubt.

P.S.  By the way, the Railcats won that night 14-3.

Leroy Harwell, Jr.

Recreation Director

100_3915_0014_014.jpg  100_3933_0004_004.jpg  100_3937_0001_001.jpg

One response so far