Thousands of people flocked to a college football stadium in Chula Vista to celebrate the hometown team that won the Little League World Series.
The 12 and 13-year-old members of the Chula Vista Park View All-Stars rode to Friday's rally at Southwestern College on top of a fire engine ladder truck.
The team has had many celebrations since defeating a team from Taiwan 6-3 on Sunday for the World Series crown. The boys got to watch the San Diego Chargers practice on Tuesday, dined with Adrian Gonzalez and other San Diego Padres players on Wednesday, and appeared on "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" on Thursday.
They will also be honored Sept. 12 at Petco Park before the Padres play against the Colorado Rockies.
Artie Ojeda and Greg Bledsoe blogged about the celebrations at the rally throughout the day.
Greg Bledsoe at 10:30 p.m:
The stadium at Southwest college is empty now. The stage is gone. The lights will go out in a few minutes. But what happened here tonight, and in Williamsport, Pennsylvania earlier this week will shine on.
The Park View Little League team capped off its week of celebrations here tonight at a rally in front of about 10,000 people. The screams reminded me of the Beatles first trip across the Atlantic (not that I was alive then, but I have seen it on tape, and had to turn down the volume).
They can't drive, but practically hold the key to the city of Chula Vista. The mayor, the city council, County Supervisors, and former Padres all shared the stage with the team tonight.
Former Padre Phil Nevin even eluded to envying the team a little saying he never got a world series title.
"It was crazy." said Bulla Graff, "They treat me like royalty."
Not to take that quote out of context, Bulla went on to talk about how he plans to take the advice of his coaches and parents, and keep this all in perspective.
"Don't get too big headed because then you'll lose focus in school." he recalls those words of wisdom.
Luke Ramirez added, "(We're) Just trying to be polite to all the adults around, and not trying to be bigshots."
This is a group of a dozen 12 and 13 year-olds who, in the past five days, have won the Little League World Series on national television, met the vice president, practiced with the Chargers, gone to dinner with Adrian Gonzalez, appeared on The Tonight Show, and been screamed at by girls one, maybe even two grades ahead of them.
You can imagine how they're feeling.
"Well, I definitely get a lot more attention," said Kiko Garcia, who then went on to repeat the advice from his mom. "It's not gonna look good if you think you're better than everyone else just because of this."
Being in Williamsport with these kids a week ago, I would have described them as humble, almost shy (Sunday's postgame performance of "Sweet Caroline" excluded). I would describe them the same way right now, and that's saying a lot considering how much their lives have changed in the past five days.
Congratulations on winning, and doing it well.
Greg Bledsoe at 7 p.m.: From the sound of it, you would think the Jonas Brothers here. Among the crowd of an estimated 10,000 fans, hundreds of screaming girls. Some of the girls are holding signs with their favorite players' names.
The players entered the stadium to a roar from the crowd singing Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline." It's the song the players said they listened to before every game.
Artie Ojeda at 5:30 p.m.: It's 5:30 and there are already thousands here at Southwestern College.
Many people are holding signs with pictures and special messages. Easily the best: "Daniel P. Will You Marry Me?" The sign is held by 13-year old April, who said she goes to school with Daniel Porros Jr., the Park View Little League catcher. She said she showed the sign to him and he blushed.
Anticipation is in the air for the arrival of the Little Leaguers. They're scheduled to leave a Chula Vista fire station in about 15 minutes and then get a ride on a fire truck here to the stadium, where they will be greeting by thousands of fans!
He's going over details of where officers will be staged during the rally.
Artie Ojeda at 2:43 p.m.: "Check 1-2. Check 1-2."
The announcer's voice is booming across the PA system at Southwestern College's Devore Stadium. This is the calm before the big celebration storm. Park View's Little Leauge champions aren't expected here for another 3 1/2 hours, but there is a flurry of activity here.
Food booths are being set up, powder blue T-shirts are on sale and anticipation is in the air. Roman Flores, 9, is one of the very first fans at the stadium. He's here with his mother, Natalie.
"They're a Chula Vista team. Wow!," Roman said.
"We're just very proud of the boys. Its really boosted the spirits of the city" Natalie said.
The Floreses will be passing out American flags and small stickers that say I Love PVLL.
Artie Ojeda at 12:05 p.m.: Sharon Garcia is Kiko Garcia's mom. Everybody knows Kiko.
The national news media went out of its way to compare Kiko to a former Major League player by the same name, but here's a funny catch: according to the younger Kiko's mother, Kiko is not his real name! His given name is Enrico Garcia. It turns out, his younger sister couldn't pronounce it. It came out as "Kiko." The name has stuck.
Artie Ojeda at 11:27 a.m.: A tumultuous rally at Southwestern College on Friday night will end whirlwind week for the Chula Vista Park View Little Leaguers.
I'll be there to blog the day's big events.
What a week its been for the young men. After defeating Taiwan last Sunday in Williamsport, Penn., the Little Leaguers returned Tuesday night for a homecoming rally, and there have been school assemblies, a meeting with the Chargers, dinner with Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and, oh, yeah, an appearance Thursday night on the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.
Right now, I'm working on a story with one of the unsung heroes of this tremendous run: Sharon Garcia, better known as "Kiko's Mom."
She has been responsible for "water bottles, Lysol and, um, cleaning up puke in the middle of the night" when one of the players got sick.