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Dixie Boys arrive Friday
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Tommy Hailey described himself as a kid at Christmas time.

Count today, then, as Christmas Eve and Saturday as the big day itself.

Director Hailey and his staff at the Newton County Recreation Commission have been hard at work preparing for the 2012 Dixie Boys World Series, and its arrival is finally here.

The 11 teams from all over the Southeast, including the Newton County representatives, begin reporting in this morning with a banquet starting this evening at 6:30 p.m.

"We're ready to play ball right now," Hailey said.

The fields at City Pond Park, which will host the world series for the fifth time since 1993, are a vibrant green, the foul line have been painted Thursday and tents and signs adorn the complex.

"We don't like to push things to the last minute," Hailey said. "The field is looking good and all the stuffed has been moved out to the park."

The NCRC staff has been busy mowing the fields almost daily - due to the heavy fertilization they have been receiving - weeding the flower beds near the walkways, stocking the park with donated Coca Cola products and setting up the banquet hall.

"We're in good shape," Hailey said. "The guys have worked hard, we have a great group of kids and people working with us...coming in at 7 a.m. and leaving at 4 p.m."

The tournament directors arrived Thursday evening in preparation for checking teams in at City Pond Park before each one reported to their hotels at the nearby Super 8 or Days Inn. After reporting, each team will attend the banquet before heading to the Covington square for opening ceremonies.

The games get going Saturday at 1 p.m. with North Carolina and South Carolina playing on field one and Louisiana and Arkansas on field two. The championship will be played Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the double-elimination tournament.

The end of the tournament will not only mark another successful hosting stint for Newton but also the culmination of the hard work of all NCRC employees.

"When that boy caught the last fly out (in the 2008 World Series) I had the most emptiest feeling," Hailey said. "It was two years of my life to this and now it's over."