HONOLULU (KHON2) — It was a day of celebration, honoring the Little League World Series Champions. Thousands lined the streets of downtown Honolulu for a special Champions parade Thursday afternoon.
The champs captured the world’s hearts in Williamsport, along with the title. Their accomplishment is undeniable and fans of all ages came out to cheer on the team.
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From keiki to kupuna, fans lined King Street from ‘A’ala Park to Honolulu Hale to get a glimpse of the team.
Wayne Gabaylo, an avid fan, was dressed in a bear costume and holding a hand-painted sign.
“I got to come out and support and show them how much we appreciate their hard work,” Gabaylo said.
Al Souza, whose son was a member of Hawaii’s 2018 LLWS championship team, said he couldn’t believe how many people showed up for the parade.
“This is bigger and better than it was four years ago,” Souza remarked. “So just imagine the next time they win!”
The championship parade honoring the 2022 Little League World Series champions had it all from marching bands and floats to everything in between.
Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi and his office of culture and arts planned the event.
“It’s a great day for our city,” Blangiardi said. “It’s a great day for our state. It’s a joyous celebration and it’s well deserved.”
Arriving at Honolulu Hale, the team was treated like rock stars with people asking them to autograph baseballs and take pictures with them.
Jaron Lancaster, a pitcher on the Little League World Series Championship team said he was amazed.
“Knowing that we have so much support behind us, it really makes me proud,” Jaron said.
Lancaster’s father, James Lancaster said he was stoked at the turn-out.
James said, “we know the Hawaiian islands had our backs, but this is huge!”
Cohen Sakamoto, the pitcher for the Little League World Series Championship team was also surprised at the magnitude of the event.
“After a while, you get used to this, but this kine level stuff is crazy,” Sakamoto explained.
His mother Rita Sakamoto, said it’s surreal that people she doesn’t know keep coming up to them to say congratulations.
“I’m getting emotional just thinking about it,” Sakamoto said, her eyes welling with tears. “I’m super proud of them. I’m super proud of the whole team.”
Each member of the team was recognized for their achievement during a presentation ceremony fronting Honolulu Hale where thousands gathered.
Blangiardi presented Coach Gerald Oda with the key to the city and each player on the team was given a specially engraved Louisville Slugger.
“I was telling the mayor, ‘oh my gosh! This is over the top, overwhelming.'” Oda explained. “And, again, just nothing but love and appreciation for everyone here.”
Hawaii’s now taken home the LLWS title four times in the last 17 years. Thursday’s festivities were a great way to honor the 2022 team, as well as those who came before them.
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Many fans said they are eager to see the next generation of ball players and what they can do.