Just as it took a team effort for Bethel Park to win a second straight state championship in baseball, it required an equally unified effort to organize the Black Hawks’ appearance in the Brentwood Fourth of July parade.

The Black Hawks defeated Selinsgrove, 5-0, in the PIAA Class 5A title tilt on June 17.

While participants may reserve their spots up to a year in advance for the annual event, the team had less than three weeks to prepare for its victory lap down Brownsville Road.

The players and coaches had the easy task. Show up. Sweat a little. Embrace the adulation.

“It was very hot,” admitted Cody Geddes. He said because of the 87-degree temperatures and the heat emanating off the pavement, it was hotter than playing on a baseball field.

“It was definitely worth it though,” he added. “Being in a parade with multiple communities and seeing everybody was definitely way cool.”

Geddes, who socked a home run in the championship game, started at third base and pitched in short relief for the Hawks. He said that participating in the pageantry was even better than when the team returned to school and got off the bus after winning the state championship.

Ray Altmeyer agreed. He followed Geddes in the batting order as the team’s designated hitter.

“Just seeing all the little kids looking up to us was a pretty cool experience,” he said. “We even signed a couple of baseballs. That was great.”

Finding a parking space for the spectacle was the most challenging task for Duke Kessler.

“They were hard to find. It was difficult, but we made it,” he said as he settled into his reserved curbside folding chair.

According to Kessler, parking spots are at a premium because Brentwood hosts one of the best parades around. “It’s fun to come here,” said the veteran of many such events in the borough. “It you don’t come to see this, then you are missing out on a lot.”

He agreed one might get an argument from Canonsburg folks because he has heard they put on a pretty good showing, too.

“This is close to home,” said the Bethel Park dad. “I will make this one my home.”

Kessler’s wife, Traci, is comfortable with making things happen.

After District Judge Ron Arnoni mentioned getting the team in the parade in Brentwood, where he once served as a councilman and mayor, Kessler went into action. She reached out to head coach Patrick Zehnder and many of the baseball moms.

“There was a lot of work to do in a little bit of time,” she said. “Everybody pitched in. Everyone on the team helped out. It truly was a team effort and took commitment, especially from the kids.”

Traci Kessler noted the players had an early wake-up call because access to Brownsville Road was curtailed at 8:30 a.m. due to the Firecracker 5K run. Plus, they had a long wait on Pyramid Avenue, where the parade assembled, as their spot was near the end of the parade, which typically lasts two-and-a-half hours.

Parents provided breakfast for the boys, which included donuts from Giant Eagle, a major sponsor for Brentwood’s Fourth of July celebration. They had drinks to keep them hydrated and candy to toss out to the spectators. They were equipped with music and microphones as they too engaged the crowd in competition. Whoever cheered the loudest was thrown a complimentary championship T-shirt.

Four fathers, Pete Geddes, Dom Magnotti, Tom Schmude and Brian LeJeune, drove the trucks.

Dom Lentz and Tanner Vogel donned the Black Hawk mascots while Zach LeJeune, Dylan Petras and Troy Goelz carried the banner, proclaiming the state champions in the procession.

Gabby Shogan headed up the decorating committee.

A senior cheerleader, who dates BP’s pitching ace Evan Holewinski, worked with teammates Meris Gable and Natalie Engel as well as Faith Clunan to create signs for the floats.

On parade day, Clunan, Chrissy LeJeune, Becky Magnotti as well as Ariana and Mia Magnotti helped decorate the trucks with the signs along with decorative orange and black balloons and streamers.

“My family comes here every year for the Fourth of July,” Shogan said because her grandmother has lived in the borough for 52 years and her mother and aunts grew up there.

“So I was really excited to hear the baseball team would be in the parade. When they reached out to me and said that they needed some help, I was more than happy to do this. It made me so proud.”

Duke Kessler says everyone associated with Bethel Park should be proud of the baseball team’s achievement. He noted that when the Hawks lost back-to-back games to rival Peters Township in late April, they could have easily folded up their tents.

“The kids were stymied. They were not used to losing and they thought the season was over but I said, ‘hey you just have to do it a different way.’ and they did it a different way,” said Kessler, who as a youth won back-to-back Pony League champions and even had his name announced at Three Rivers Stadium.

“It was great to see these kids grow up after being tested. They succeeded while getting over their failures. They were fun to watch. It was a magical season just as 2021 was. But they have grown into fine young men and that is something the entire community can be proud of.”

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!