Saturday afternoon, downtown Huntington Beach celebrated 13 hardworking players, three dedicated coaches and one lucky pair of shoes.
Stephanie Green, the president of Ocean View Little League, wore the footwear in question — a pair of red, white and blue athletic shoes — during a ceremony at Pier Plaza after the All-Stars' victory parade down Main Street. Before the season, Green said she bought the shoes off the clearance rack at Macy's in hopes that they would bring the team good luck.
When Ocean View's Nick Pratto hit a home run during the first game of the season and the ball landed on Green's shoes, she figured they cast a spell of some kind.
"I'm going to wear them every year," she said, as she and the All-Stars prepared to board a bus for a post-ceremony party at the Hyatt.
The shoes, which the team briefly honored onstage during the ceremony, were just about the only person or thing to have the word "luck" attributed to them Saturday. Otherwise, city and state leaders congratulated the 2011 Little League Baseball World Series champions for their hard work and perseverance, not to mention their newfound job as ambassadors for Huntington Beach, Orange County, the West and the United States.
Mayor Joe Carchio, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), Assemblyman Jim Silva (R-Huntington Beach) and Supervisor John Moorlach were among those making brief speeches at the ceremony, which drew a crowd of hundreds along Pier Plaza and the pier. Each of the players and coaches received the Key to Surf City, an honor the city typically gives only a handful of times a year.
"This isn't just Surf City anymore," Rohrabacher said. "This is Little League City, USA."
Before the ceremony, the team rode in a fire engine along Main Street, accompanied by the band and cheer squads from Ocean View High School. Yellow and green balloons, representing the colors Ocean View Little League wore in the World Series, lined the sides of the street.
Claudine St. Pierre, the league's player agent, interviewed each team member briefly on stage and asked many of them to name their favorite memory of the season.
Steven Kotkosky said his highlight had been the home run he hit in the West Regional final Aug. 13, which sent Ocean View to the World Series.
"After I crossed the plate, it was so amazing," he said. "There was so much cheering. It felt so good."