Property owners help turn LLWS parking from nightmare to delight

Where some may have found cause for rivalry, a group of neighbors in South Side are working together to provide parking for as many as 70 cars a day during the Little League World Series.  Above, Pam Bartholomew, left, and Thomas Betz, work together to park cars on their yards during the Series. ANNE REINER/OnthePULSE

SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT – Where some may have found cause for rivalry, a group of neighbors in South Side are working together to provide parking for as many as 70 cars a day during the Little League World Series. 

Just two blocks from the Series gate, Pam and Tom Bartholomew have been parking cars at their home on Fairmont Avenue for roughly 18 years.

Thomas Betz and his family purchased their home next door two years ago. The two families, who charge a flat $5 for each car, fill both yards with cars. Each yard fits between 30 and 35 vehicles. 

“I don’t look at it from a financial standpoint,” said Betz, who first started parking cars for his grandma eight years ago. “I look at it as being able to meet people from different areas.” 

Yes, the yearly cash bonus is a welcome addition, but both families agree that the real joy comes from meeting people from around the world and making their stay in South Williamsport enjoyable. 

Pam Bartholomew, who also rents hill chairs for $5 to Series attendees, said in the past they have helped people change flat tires, watched their dogs, gave them a place to use the restroom and a hangout spot during the long days at the games. 

For these families, it’s about creating a great experience that brings people back each year. Bartholomew added that they often play host to families and friends of the teams, and keeping their fee to a flat $5 is key. 

“We like to keep it (low) because that’s what keeps them coming back,” Bartholemew said. 

Cars fill out a property next to the entrance of the Little League World Series.

Some homes closer to the complex charge $10 or more, but the Bartholomews and Betzes are determined to keep their prices low to accommodate families with kids who also need to cover travel expenses and costs at the games. 

But standard parking for the Series is free, so why is yard parking so popular? 

While location plays a part, Betz and Bartholomew say it’s the guarantee of a constant watchful eye while visitors enjoy the games. 

“They know their car is secure, they know I’m here when the first car pulls in and when the last car pulls out,” Betz said. 

In addition, the long-time locals can direct area visitors to nearby eateries, area activities and provide tips for first-time Series attendees. 

“They’ll find the spot and they’ll love it and they’ll tell all their friends,” Bartholomew said. “We really enjoy doing this.”

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