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Little League invasion an opportunity


   In a few short weeks, Madras will be invaded by, at last count, 65 Little League teams -- and their families.
   We should more often be so invaded.
   Get ready and get prepared. Our restaurants have to be psyched, gas stations, hotels and motels all salivating, and the cinema ready for a spike in ticket sales. The July 1-9 tourney should be a nice gift to to the local economy.
   The local Little League organization has had their hands full with preparing to host a major tournament, all the onsite demands and expectations. Preparing the town to best host the event was never on their to-do list. So, the Madras Aquatic Center and the chamber of commerce has taken the lead to try to organize local businesses and services to take care of the visitors -- and best prepare to utilize the rush of potential customers.
   A meeting has been set for tomorrow, Thursday, at 3 p.m. at the chamber office for businesses, or anyone else, that may want further information on how they might provide their services to the tournament, in a group-organized fashion. If curious, you should attend.
   The MAC was proactive early on with planning for the tournament's onrush, the swarm of Little Leaguers and their families hitting town. They've arranged with the school district to turn the grass area at the middle school into an RV and tent camping area. They're hoping to make the MAC area the gathering point for teams and families who aren't playing, or want a break from the games at Juniper Hills Park. Stands to reason that a good number of these Little Leaguers (and their brothers and sisters) might spend a few bucks to swim while they're in the vicinity.
   Juniper Hills Park is an excellent facility with beautiful views, an excellent showcase for the Madras area. Hopefully this year's event will go off seamlessly (at least to the masses) and the tourney can find its way back here at regular intervals. There are plenty of other great communities in the district -- Redmond, Bend, Prineville, The Dalles, Hood River, Hermiston, etc. -- likely eager to host the event. It might not come back for awhile, so hopefully we can take advantage of our opportunity and be great hosts.
   Of course there are those who who would just as soon not experience the "invasion." They rue the thought of having so many visitors in our community -- forcing us to (how horrific!) drive a few extra blocks to find a light to cross Fifth Street. But isn't it nice to see Madras electric with lots of people enjoying themselves?
   No doubt it's the busy season in Madras and Jefferson County. Amid the din of the Little League Tournament -- and right in the middle of the July 1-9 tourney -- is preparation for the annual July 4th celebration in Madras.
   Once again, the Todd Beamer Memorial Run kicks off the day, the chamber is organizing the parade and Sahalee Park celebration, the MAC is holding its MAC Splash, and the Madras Sparklers are presenting the night fireworks show.
   From dawn to dark, if there is a bigger all-day Fourth of July celebration per capita in Oregon than there is in Madras, someone let me know.
   On the heels of the Fourth comes the Relay For Life, then the county fair -- with free entry this year -- followed in August by several additional community events highlighted by the annual Airshow of the Cascades. It's going to be a busy summer, like always.
   But first up the bat: the District 5 Little League All Star Tournament. Ready to play ball, Madras?