In a parade that would be fitting for major leaguers, thousands of people lined Main Street in El Segundo on Monday to welcome home the 2023 Little League World Series champions.
The El Segundo Little League 12U All-Stars defeated Curacao 6-5 in the championship game on Sunday with a dramatic walk-off home run in the bottom of the 6th inning.
“It was a dream come true,” one player told KTLA as they arrived at LAX Monday afternoon. “It was very exciting … a big achievement in our lives.”
“It’s good to be home. We’ve been on the road for a long time,” said coach Danny Boehle. “It’s been an incredible journey. They finished the mission they started three years ago, and I love them all.”
It was the first trip to the final for the team from El Segundo, a city of about 16,000 people just south of Los Angeles International Airport.
“The memories these kids will have as well as their coaches will last a lifetime,” said Boehle. “I think they’ll get it in about ten to 15 years from now, and understand exactly what they did.”
The boys -and their coach- were moved by Monday’s turnout.
“It’s crazy!” El Segundo All-Star Ollie Parks said. “I can’t believe we’re here. It’s spectacular.”
While Monday’s parade was extremely well-attended, there is an official parade planned for Sunday, Sept. 10, also on Main Street, starting at noon.
California’s eight titles are the most by any U.S. state.
Curacao, a small island off the coast of Venezuela that is home to just 150,000 residents, has represented the international side of the bracket in the championship the last three times non-U.S. teams have competed — in 2019, 2022 and this year — but has lost each time.
There was no tournament in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 tournament was limited to American teams because of travel restrictions.
Both California and Curacao took a loss during the tournament and had to work their way through the elimination bracket to the final.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.