‘America at the Ballpark’ invites families to annual Wakarusa event

By Angel Perkins
WAKARUSA — The Wakarusa Ballpark wants patrons to celebrate “America at the Ballpark” Saturday, June 25 to benefit the local park that services the area’s tee-ball, baseball, and softball players.
“Our first year, 1978, we had 10 teams in kindergarten through eighth grade,” said Nadine Lengacher, league director and ballpark property owner. “Now we have 40.”
She said she and her husband Jack had envisioned the ballpark not just to offer something for children to do, but something the families could do together. “Playing little league keeps the kids occupied and off the streets,” she said. “Our goal was to not charge for them to play so whoever wants to, can … not just those with a lot of money. We got support from the town, the school and the community. God has blessed us tenfold.”
She said the park has had a lot of support from volunteers — from building the park initially to regularly making the games possible, and that the only fundraiser the league has is the annual event that has been put on the past 15 years. “We have concessions but we don’t charge a whole lot,” Lengacher explained. “Like being able to play, we wanted people to come out with their families and still be able to afford a hot dog and a treat, and it not put them out.”
“America at the Ballpark” begins Saturday with a Pee Wees versus Moms game at the Major League diamond at 5:30 p.m. followed by a preschool game (ages three to five) at 7 p.m.; a special presentation at 7:45 p.m.; and then an eighth grade boys game against John Glenn at 8:15 p.m.
On the Girls Softball diamond the 12U Wa-Nee Storm will play versus Bremen at 5 p.m. simultaneously with the 14U Wa-Nee Storm playing against the Harris Heat from the Penn Harris Madison schools on the Minor League diamond.
During the games, as well as regular concessions, Nelson’s chicken halves will be sold as will Cook’s ice cream and pie. And for those children not playing or watching ball, there will be face painting, a dunk tank, moon walk, 16-foot slide and an obstacle course to keep them occupied.
Also throughout the evening there will be prizes awarded — top prize being $500 cash — and afterward, a fireworks show (at 9:45 p.m. or dusk). A rain date is scheduled for Monday, June 27.
Money raised at the event June 25 will go toward regular maintenance and repairs.
“We’ve got a real good group of coaches who make it possible and a real neat community that is family-oriented,” Lengacher said. She and her husband fit right in with that mindset since they, their children, and grandchildren can regularly be seen running concessions, or doing other jobs around the park located behind Wakarusa Elementary School.