Editor's note: This story has been edited to correct a misspelling.
As Saturday’s rain soaked the Kenai Little League Fields, forming small pools and streams around the bases, it was clear no baseball would be played at the tenth annual Frontier Community Services World Series Baseball.
Instead, community members including Gov. Sean Parnell packed on their raingear and used tents housing face-painting, barbeque, and cotton candy to the fullest extent.
“The rain didn’t stop us,” said event coordinator Kathy Kenner. Everyone still got his or her trophies and medals for participating, she said.
Gov. Parnell, flanked by his wife Sandy Parnell and Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, stood in a crowd of players from the Peninsula Oilers as he spoke. He thanked Frontier Community Services for creating such a unique, unifying event for the community.
Demeetri Earl Pardue watched from just outside the tent, saved from the downpour by a stranger’s umbrella.
Pardue said he likes getting out of the house and into the community and enjoying the free food at the Frontier Community Services Event.
The Frontier World Series event is not just an event for the Central Kenai Peninsula, Kenner said. Attendees arrived on busloads from as far away as Seward and Homer.
For Homer residents, Ruth Mitchell and Ben Jennings, It was not the first time making the two-hour drive to the event
“It is just a good long day of being out,” Jennings said. “Normally its in the sunshine.”
Mitchell came as the caregiver, or provider, for Jennings. The two arrived in a soggy yellow school bus with other consumers and providers from the South Peninsula Behavioral Health Services PRIDE Program.
After getting his face covered in a thick mask of teal blue and green paint, Jennings dashed off to grab some lunch.
Events like the World Series help raise awareness surrounding disability issues in the community, Meyers said.
Meyers arrived with his wife Karlene Meyers to spend time with their niece who receives assistance through Frontier Community Services.
Not only can the community see what is going on, but they often join in, Meyers said. It builds a sense of family.
“It helps people not feel alone,” Meyers said, watching his sons Bowe and Jack Meyers pick up sopping baseballs and toss them around in the blowup pitching house.
In the decade since the event began, it has doubled in size said Joe Malatesta, who founded it in 2004.
“We have 54 players on two teams that first year,” Malatesta said. “This year we had 100 players on eight teams.”
Tyne Buning used the time she would have been playing to help out at the face painting station.
“It is usually nice and warm and sunny, and it is good exercise,” Buning said, a golden trophy protruding from her pocket.
Standing beside Buning, Kenner looked out over the train of dripping tents and began to make preparations to pack up for the day.
“It is obvious people love this,” Kenner said. “They come out in the rain.”
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org