You only get one Opening Ceremony a year, so make yours an event for the whole community.
Reveling in the memories of years past and celebrating the season to come with engaging activities that will excite current and former players, teams, and their families is what the day is all about.
Planning for Opening Ceremonies often takes plenty of energy and creativity. If your Board is fortunate to have someone with event coordinating experience, tap them for ideas and direction. If not, see if the league’s budget can allow you to hire a professional event planner or work with an entertainment company, who can help the Board and other volunteers to coordinate the festivities.
There are a lot of folks in your neighborhood that are touched by Little League® in a variety of different ways.
As plans are made, be sure to look around at all the possible connections that your league has. Recognize the networking opportunities that are out there when you include the schools where the players attend, local civic and volunteer organizations, and the businesses in the area. These can be great ways to recruit sponsors and volunteers.
Be sure not to overlook the power of emotion and the history of your league. Invite past players, coaches, team mom’s and umpires, along with former league officials, and make them feel like they will always be welcomed. Show them that their contributions are appreciated, regardless of how much time they spent on the field, in the concession stand or volunteering in some other way… it’s all part of making a better experience and reminding them why they participated or volunteered in the first place.
Many leagues see Opening Day as a wonderful venue for highlighting last year’s accomplishments, acknowledging anniversaries and honoring individual and team achievements. Bringing in an engaging guest speaker or holding special dedications and unveilings also add to the entertainment value.
In organizing the program, and events for the day, be careful not to lose sight of the fact that this is an activity for children of all ages, so it needs to be fun. Mix what’s interesting for adults with thrills for the kids. Contest, games, and other “moving” activities will cut down on kids getting bored.
Team pictures are one activity that is a highly-recommended addition to the Opening Day events calendar. Since teams commonly attend Opening Day dressed in their full game uniform, plan to have team pictures taken on the same day. Be assured, moms and dads will thank you for removing the hassles that come with gathering and dressing players, and making a special trip to the field for the five minutes that it takes to snap the picture.
Lastly, look at opening day as way to thank your sponsors. Welcome them to attend, and be recognized during the ceremonies. Also consider offering them opportunities to provide product, do giveaways, and promote contests. If they are sponsoring a team this season, Opening Day is a great time for them to get a picture with their team.
Make Opening Day an awakening of sorts for the league and the community in which you live. Embrace these moments, but do so with an entertainment plan that has everyone in mind.