WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- If locals in Williamsport didn't know about the Red Land Little Leaguers before Wednesday night, it was impossible to miss them during the Little League World Series' Grand Slam Parade.
By the time Red Land's band of 13 twelve and thirteen-year old brothers started the parade route in their float, a throng of people were waiting for them with cheers along West Fourth Street in Williamsport. One group broke into a chant of "PA! PA!" while others screamed for the boys as if they were rock stars. "I hear these guys are legit," one man was overheard saying as their float rolled by.
"This has been a dream since I started playing T-Ball," said Red Land right fielder Jake Cubbler. "I watched it on TV and thought it was a dream and now it's coming true."
This week has been a dream come true for not only the players, but their parents. All the long car rides and extra trips to the batting cages are paying off with tears of joy, says Stephanie Henline, mother of pitcher and shortstop Jaden Henline.
"There's going to be tears from the moms as the boys come by," she said. "They all worked so hard for this."
There are estimated to be over 100 family members in town for the week, but the number of fans Red Land has picked up amounts to many more than that. Just two hours away from South Williamsport, the group from York County has turned into the local favorites. Essentially, if you don't have a horse in this year's Little League World Series race, you are rooting for Red Land.
"All you have to do is put on a Red Land shirt, and you feel connected to people you don't even know," Jake's mom Lisa Cubbler said.
Head coach Tom Peifer brought his team straight to South Williamsport from Bristol, Connecticut after winning the Mid-Atlantic Regional title on Sunday. Since arriving, he's called it a "whirlwind" of activities; from talking to ESPN to other interviews to getting fitted for custom clothing. Wednesday was his team's first chance to play baseball; taking part in an hour-long practice before hitting the batting cages.
"Never in a million years did I think we'd be here," Peifer said. "I knew we had a good team, but if you would've told me at the beginning of the summer, I would've said you're crazy."
On Friday, his team, with all the hype (outscoring teams 244-13 this summer) and love surrounding them, finally gets to play a Little League World Series game, the first for a team from Central Pennsylvania since Shippensburg in 1990.
"Everyone I've spoken to from where we're from, Etters and Lewisberry," he said, "Everyone has said they'll be here. It'll be a ghost town back home."