The smell of grilled onions slowly drifts over Upper Lynn. The sounds of kids playing and bats cracking aren’t the only sensations coming from Kilmer Park these days. If there is baseball in the field, there are likely volunteers behind the concession. The Lynn Valley Little League tradition of fundraising through food is by far the best bargain for dinner in Lynn Valley.
A grand slam on and off the field
Four evenings a week and most of the day on Saturday, the Kilmer Park Concession opens its doors under the watch full eyes of
LVLL’s concession coordinators Michelle Buxton and Christine Halicki (The full schedule is at the bottom of the post). They oversee hundreds of volunteer hours each year – every one spent for the same goal – to get more kids playing baseball.
“It’s a bit about feeding the kids and parents before and after baseball but it’s important fundraising for the league,” said Halicki. “It keeps fees down so more kids can participate and helps buy equipment.”
One candy bag at a time, the concession typically nets around $20K. The fundraising helped reduce the fees this year in some age groups, said Buxton. That has translated into a record year for LVLL with more than 650 boys and girls participating this year, said registrar Becky Carlsen, adding the hard work of Halicki and Buxton is essential to making the league accessible.
Remarkably, a hamburger still only costs $6 at the ballpark.
In a world of climbing food costs, the league is walking a fine line between fundraising success and affordability. As one patron said Tuesday: “It’s cheaper than Mcdonald’s and it helps the kids.”
“It isn’t just for players and their families, we get hikers and bikers so happy to enjoy a burger after the trails,” said Halicki. “It felt like we had half the community here last Saturday.’
But it’s still a bit of a secret. What a fun evening to walk up to Kilmer, grab some food and watch some T-ball from the hill.
“I think the prices are reasonable and who doesn’t love concession – there is something nostalgic about it,” said Halicki. “Maybe it’s remembering when we were kids. It is so fun to see a tiny kid walk up with their 10 cents to buy a piece of gum – or these days tap their parents’ credit card. For little kids, this is often the first place they buy something on their own.”
The menu at the ballpark has all the classic fare: burgers and hot dogs – both meat and veggie, chips, and Gatorade.
“The candy bags are huge,” laughed Halicki. “We switched to paper bags a few years ago to be environmentally conscious but the mystery of what is in the bag has boosted the sales. I try and make a mix of sweet and sour and always include one big candy.”
Other favourites that stand out are slushies and freezies when the weather warms up.
Somedays the crowd around the concession may look large, but a closer look reveals that is not necessarily a line. It is the gathering place at Kilmer Park.
“I can’t count the amount of people I have met at the concession,” said Halicki. “I have spoken with people I have seen at my kids’ school but never had a chance to talk with. I stay in touch with parents from past teams.”
Each team is asked to cover at least one shift at the concession with older teams taking on more.
“It’s a bit of teambuilding for the parents too,” she said. “It helps break the ice and helps parents get to know each other better.”
It’s not unusual to see grandparents stepping up either.
“The other day there was a Grandma on the grill and her daughter was also helping out,” said Halicki. “That is three generations at the park that day – how cool.
“Everyone volunteers for the kids. It’s very important that when the costs of so many sports are going up and up, Little League is accessible. Kids are outdoors, playing in their neighbourhood – it’s the best.”
The Lynn Valley Little League concession is open weather dependent Monday to Thursday 5 – 8 pm until April 20th – and 5:30 – 8:30 pm after April 20th and Saturdays 10 am – 5 pm. The last day of the season is June 24th. With it being only about $9 for a burger, chips and pop – this is our pick for dinner this spring.