OSSINING, N.Y. – Before the first pitch, before the umpires yell “Play Ball” and before Saturday’s parade, baseball is on the minds of the dozen members of the Ossining Parks and Recreation Department.
Opening Day ceremonies for Ossining’s JCYS Little League games begin Saturday at Veterans Park in Ossining, but the grounds crew has been at work at Veterans Park, Ryder Park, Snowden Park and Nelson Park to prepare for the season. And everything from the green grass to the brown clay and even the yellow foul poles needs to be ready.
“I played sports growing up here so it’s like giving back now. My 5-year-old is starting tee-ball and to see them go out and have fun on the fields is a great feeling,” said Mario Velardo, assistant foreman for the Town of Ossining. In addition to working on the grounds this year, Velardo worked to construct and paint Ryder Park’s new foul poles. “This is the first time in 12 years of working in the department that we’ve tried this and I think it’s going to be great. It means a lot to be able to work on it because it helps the kids in our community.”
For Ossining Parks Groundskeeper Steven White, who’s worked to prepare the village and town’s fields for the last 15 years, the hard work preparing the fields “is more than worth it.”
“This is actually an honor to do for me,” White said. “We know how much the community appreciates this work and we know how much fun the kids are going to have out here so it means a lot to be able to help give them that.”
Henry Atterbury, Ossining’s Parks and Recreation superintendent, said crew members would be out on a daily basis once the season starts this weekend.
“There are so many things that go into field maintenance and our guys do a really great job with it,” Atterbury said. “The fields have to be mowed, cleaned and painted almost constantly and we have several fields in Ossining that we take care of. But we have a lot of really hard working guys who are dedicated to making sure it gets done.”
JCYS Little League Opening Day ceremonies start at 9 a.m. on April 14 with a parade at Roosevelt School that marches up to Veterans Park. Atterbury said roughly 250 kids will participate in the parade before games scheduled throughout the day several Ossining Parks. For more information, residents are asked to visit the town and village recreation websites or the JCYS Youth Sports Leagues website.