BRIDGEWATER TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- A fire in a ball field's concession stand in Susquehanna County could not have come at a worse time. The fire broke out early Sunday morning, just one week before the field's biggest fundraising event of the year.
"I've always lived in this area. I've spent a lot of time trying to keep this going, keeping it alive," said Ken Blaisure, of Montrose, who runs the field.
The Southtown Ball Field is in Bridgewater Township near Montrose. A weekend-long allnighter annual tournament raises money to keep both the field and the weekly leagues going.
"This whole park from side to side, all the way to the road, is packed with campers, tents. There's hundreds of people here to play. It's a good environment, good time," said Corey Brewer of Montrose.
Brewer plays in the leagues during the week, but also has a team in this weekend's tournament.
The 30th annual tournament starts Friday night. Games go all night, and all day long until Sunday. The fire in the concession stand over the weekend might mean no lights, which would mean no nighttime games.
"It will be different. The nighttime games are the fun ones. I personally like the 2, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning games. They're fun. It's different to play that way," Brewer said.
Blaisure says he feels lucky because there weren't a whole lot of items in stock in the concession stand at the time of the fire. He did say they lost about eight dozen softballs, worth up to nearly $500.
Ever since the fire, local business owners have stepped up to help clean up the mess, and donate whatever they can. Maplewood Lanes, a bowling alley less than a mile away, will help with grills and food.
"It's a big part of our family. It's a big, fun weekend. Families come together. We've umpired it. We've helped with the concession stand, so any help to get it going would be great," said Celia Spadine. Her parents own Maplewood.
Even a local couple decided to help out. Gary and Theresa Parker saw the story on the news and live five minutes away. They wrote a check for more than $200.
"We drive by and see all the people staying in the tents. They've had this softball tournament for many, many years. Never gone, don't know the people, but it's important to keep this going," the Parkers said. They hope their donation will get other people to donate, too.
"It makes you emotional, for someone to do that, it's great. This area is fabulous, and I'm sure there's going to be more people coming forward to donate," Blaisure said.
Blaisure will make the final decision whether or not he will have to postpone the tournament, or just cancel the nighttime games sometime this week. He says 16 teams were signed up this year, the most in the tournament's 30-year history.
The fire marshal determined the cause of the fire was an electrical issue.