Ripken World Series set to kick off 10th year with long list of events

This Friday evening, for the 10th time in as many summers, hundreds of young athletes representing 16 teams from around the globe, their families, spectators and coaches will convene in Aberdeen at the Ripken Baseball Complex to begin this year's Ripken Major 70 World Series. Judging from the schedule put forth by Ripken Baseball, this might be the most eventful tournament in the history of the nine-day event.

Starting things off at 5 p.m. on Friday will be the opening ceremonies at Cal Sr.'s yard, where the teams will be introduced. Following team introductions there will be a baseball skills competition, and then a crowd favorite, the home run derby. After a new home run king has been decided, the tournament officially begins with an 8 p.m. matchup between the local representatives from Harford County, and the Middle Atlantic squad.

On Saturday at 11 a.m., a new addition to the event schedule will take place in the form of a team parade through downtown Aberdeen. All 16 of the World Series teams, in addition to their coaches and team ambassadors, will start the parade on the intersection of West Bel Air Avenue and Law Street, then march the six blocks to Festival Park, across from the Aberdeen Police Department. After the parade, the tournament's pool play section begins again at 2:30 p.m.

Perhaps the most exciting event taking place during the World Series, aside from the World Championship Game on Sunday, Aug. 19, is next Friday's concert at Ripken Stadium, which features as its headliner Grammy Award winner and television actress Reba McEntire. This marks the first year a concert has been held in conjunction with the Ripken World Series. The gates at Ripken Stadium open at 6 p.m., while McEntire's performance is slated to begin at 8 p.m.

"The World Series is always such a fun part of the year for all of us and the way the community supports it is special. We are continually trying to improve the event and we are doing that again this year with the carnival, concert and more,"Cal Ripken, Jr.said Tuesday. "I hope that everyone who attends has a great time and enjoys the enhancements. I can't wait."

Also in the live music category, following Saturday, Aug. 18's U.S. Championship contest, is a performance from Bel Air band Shores Calling, a four-man outfit that will be playing their song "Shine," which was the theme of the 2011 Ripken World Series.

Another first-time event at this year's World Series will be a carnival, which will run from Aug. 14 to 19, starting at noon at closing at 10 p.m. for the first five days, and shutting down at 7 p.m. on Sunday. According to Ripken Baseball, the carnival will feature between 12 and 16 rides, along with all-ages games.

Following the Aug. 19 World Championship game, at 2 p.m., there will be a World Series Championship Bash at Cal Sr.'s Yard to celebrate the conclusion of this year's tournament.

On Aug. 12, an attraction titled Splash Days, which will feature inflatable water slides for children, begins at noon and closes at 10 p.m., while the following day it opens at the same time, but shuts down at 6 p.m.

Italian Food Feasts, at which spectators can buy an all-you-can-eat ticket for $16, are slated to take place at 6 p.m. and again at 8 p.m., during final two tournament games on Aug. 12. Two days later, a Crab Feast, which will cost $31 to take part in, is scheduled to take place at the same times.

A Karaoke Contest featuring Ripken World Series participants will take place on Aug. 16, and will see young athletes belting out tunes between the innings of the 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. games at Cal Sr.'s Yard.

Following the final game on Aug. 15, fans can come down to the field at Cal Sr.'s Yard for an International Dance Extravaganza, while on Aug 11 an All-Star Teen Dance Party is set to start at 8:30 p.m., after that day's last game, and wrap up at 11 p.m.

On Aug. 13, 15 and 17, at the turf circle below Cal Sr.'s Yard, yoga classes will be held, while Zumba dance fitness classes are taking place on Aug. 14 and 16, also at the turf circle. The charge for each class will be $5 per person, per day.

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