36th Annual Polar Bear Softball Tournament Sees Huge Crowd

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WILKES-BARRE --  It was "batter up" at the 36th annual Polar Bear Softball tournament at Kirby Park. The tradition started when two friends challenged each other to a game.

“We were arguing over there in the parking lot who was the better player, who was the better team,” said Allen Blackwell, the game organizer.

The friendly competition from more than three decades ago still has people coming out to play every New Year's Day.

“It starts off the new year, gets everybody together again,” said Ray Williamson of Kingston

And anyone who wants to play is welcome. It was Chris Barbacci’s first time.

“Get out here just to get some swings. Have fun, that's the most important part,” said Barbacci.

“Right now, I’m just spectating,” said Amber Walko-Ray of Wilkes-Barre. “But I was playing for an inning before, so that was fun. I wasn't prepared, though, a little cold today."

Last year, the fields at Kirby Park in Wilkes-Barre were covered in ice. This year, that's not the case, but they call it the polar bear softball game for a reason.

“It don't get any better than this. There's no snow, there's no ice, there's no freezing rain today, so you have a great day to play ball.” Blackwell said.

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