August 19 marks a special day in Parson, not only as the annual Parson ball tournament wrapped up this season, but also because it would be Ray Jean’s birthday, who the tournament is named after.
The Ray Jean Memorial Tournament took place over the weekend at the ball diamond in Parson, with six teams facing off against each other on the field. Despite smoky weather, the tournament attracted players and sports fans alike to Parson for the weekend.
Jean raised his family of seven on a farm in 8 Mile. Jean was a baseball umpire in Golden for years, and gained the nickname “Blue” to match the colour of the old umpire uniforms. Jean’s wife often kept score of the softball games, “the real kind, with errors and stats,” explained granddaughter Heather Bokenfohr.
“When he passed away, the Jean’s wanted to keep his love of the game alive by reviving the Parson Fall Faire, and changing the name to Ray Jean Memorial,” Bokenfohr explained.
Jean passed away in 2001, and at the tournament each year, a Barry Lacasse memorial trophy is given away to the winners in honour of another great man who loved the game. Lacasse and his wife were married on the diamond, and have four daughters that continue to play on his team, the Bearcats.
The Parson Fall Faire used to be a large family event with bingo, kids carnival games like dime toss, dunk tanks, and a “chicken poop off,” where a chicken would be placed in a caged area with numbered squares.
The squares were sold off, and wherever the chicken pooped, the number would win. There was always a large dance on Saturday night as well, where things could get wild, Bokenfohr recounts.
“The ball diamond has never been great, but the family atmosphere and the love we all have for the game is what we know makes our grandfather proud,” she said.
This year, the Marlins won the Barry Lacasse Trophy after a dusty and smoky weekend of playing ball.