May 18, 2013

TRAVIS LAZARCZYK: Perry keeping the 4th festive

By Travis Lazarczyk tlazarczyk@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

Nick Perry remembers the fireworks. He was 8 or 9 years old, and Perry recalls the crowds and the food. Most of all, Perry's earliest memories of the annual Winslow Fourth of July celebration center around the fireworks.

"When you're a little kid, you like the fireworks," Perry said. "You can't believe such a big fireworks show can happen in a small town like this."

The Winslow Family Fourth of July has been a big part of Perry's life for as long as he can remember. Now 27, Perry is doing his best to make sure the event spawns fantastic memories for others.

For the sixth straight year, Perry and his friend Ron Gaulin are organizing a softball tournament to benefit the Winslow Fourth of July celebration. The 16-team, double elimination tournament will be on Saturday, June 29. The games are played using the one-pitch format. The entry fee is $125 per team. All the money raised, Perry said, goes towards the Fourth of July festivities.

Entry forms are available at winslow4thofjuly.com.

"We're constantly trying to raise more money," Perry said. "I'd like to make even more money for the Fourth."

Perry became involved in the Winslow Fourth of July when he graduated from Winslow High School in 2004. He started by working in parking, then moved up to selling 50/50 tickets. Now, he's a member of the committee that plans the annual event. It's a year-round job, Perry said.

"People don't realize how much goes into it," Perry, who graduated from Thomas College and works as a customer service representative at Kennebec Federal Savings Bank, said.

A softball tournament seemed like a natural fit as a fundraiser, Perry thought. There are leagues all around state, filled with teams always looking for extra games. He and Gaulin each played on a few teams. Surely they could find enough teams for a tournament.

"It just seemed like a good idea," Perry said.

It was. Perry's first tournament had nine teams. Over the last few years, he's capped the number of entries at 16. Any more and the tournament would have to become a two-day affair, and at the time being, Perry prefers to keep Sunday as a rain date.

Perry is doing something right, because he sees some of the same teams coming back each year. There's teams from Winslow and Waterville, from China and Augusta. A team from Richmond has played a few times.

"It's nice to see teams come from all over central Maine," Perry said.

Over the years, Perry's softball tournament has brought in more than $10,000 for the Winslow Family Fourth of July. That helps buy a few more things, like fireworks, for instance.

This year, there might be another kid who goes home in awe after seeing the fireworks show, and maybe that kid will come back next year, and the year after. When that kid is older, maybe he'll be inspired to get involved, to help out.

Through a softball tournament, Perry passes along a Winslow tradition and at the same time tries to make it better.

Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242

tlazarczyk@mainetoday.com

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