The fire trucks that guided the Mattituck baseball team bus back to the school in the early hours of June 14 were driven by former players.
A crowd of hundreds awaited in the parking lot. A disc jockey blasted Queen's "We Are The Champions" as the bus doors opened.
This was all at 1 a.m.
It seemed, coach Steve DeCaro said, as if no one in the vicinity was sleeping.
"If they weren't awake, they were after the DJ started and the fire trucks came by," DeCaro said. "We didn't hear anybody complaining."
The town understood the significance of what transpired several hours earlier, about 250 miles northwest in Binghamton. The Tuckers of Class B had beaten Livonia, 4-1, for their first state championship.
"That's probably one of the best benefits of having a small community like this," said senior Marcos Perivolaris, who threw 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball to earn the win.
The parade was hardly a surprise. DeCaro and others had been in touch with the former players in the local fire department, and the community had greeted the team bus after the Long Island final and Southeast Regional final. "We had a similar thing, but nothing of this magnitude," DeCaro said.
So as the bus pulled into the school, the Tuckers (27-1) jockeyed for position to see what awaited them. "Everyone was at the front of the bus, this huge Hampton Jitney," said Perivolaris, who will play baseball at SUNY Cortland. "We were all packed into the first three rows trying to see everything."
It was an experience they'd been working toward for years.
"We've been playing together since we were in kindergarten, really," Perivolaris said. "We all stuck together every summer league and Little League. To do what we actually planned to do from such a young age was amazing."
Chris Dwyer said he, Perivolaris, Joe Tardif, Ian Nish, James Nish, Will Gildersleeve, Tyler Webb and Victor Proferes got a sense of how good they could be as sixth graders. That group played together on a summer team that lost in its district championship, short of its ultimate goal of reaching the Little League World Series.
"Once we made the all-stars, we were all talking about how we were going to do big things and get on TV at the World Series," Dwyer said. "We kept our heads up and said once we got to high school we would live up to our expectations."
Perivolaris, who made the varsity team as an eighth grader, was on the Mattituck team that won the Long Island title in 2011. The Tuckers won again in 2014, but they never advanced through the Southeast Regional final for their first appearance upstate since 1983.
This group did that -- and more.
"It's really just icing on the cake because from such a young age we were told we would be the best team to ever go through Mattituck," Perivolaris said. "We truly believed that, so we made sure we made it obvious that we were."