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One night on the Common 

As the sun begins to set, Halifax's playground comes alive with activity.

The Aluminum Falcons' Amanda Thompson takes her swing. - JONATHAN BRIGGINS
  • The Aluminum Falcons' Amanda Thompson takes her swing.
  • Jonathan Briggins

The Aluminum Falcons softball team are all smiles, buzzing with excitement, giving props and high-fives. They re-enact the big moments of an 11-10 nail-biting semi-final win against the Master Batters. The big comeback win came after trailing going into the seventh and final inning, on diamond 10 of the Halifax Common under a cloudy but vibrant pink and purple sunset.

In the day, the North Common is quiet, with pedestrians and the occasional dog-walker cutting across worn-down shortcuts. At night the beer leaguers come out and it turns into a bustling recreational sport hub, with eight baseball diamonds in use. That’s in addition to cyclists, picnickers hanging out by the water fountain, parents convincing little kids to keep walking, the occasional drunk by that weird picnic table under the trees and anyone drawn out of hot peninsular homes by summer fever. It’s a smart strategy to keep an eye out for foul balls at all times.

Cory Urquhart (human), Chance (black-brown) and Nitro (brown) enjoy the weather. - JONATHAN BRIGGINS
  • Cory Urquhart (human), Chance (black-brown) and Nitro (brown) enjoy the weather.
  • Jonathan Briggins

“Most people don’t hear us because we’re yelling on the field so they think we’re just hollering at each other,” says Adam Muir, whose run support late in the game was instrumental in the Falcons’ August 13 comeback. It’s the Dalhousie University student’s first year on the team. He’s on the Common a couple times a week, playing every Thursday in the Halifax Sport & Social Club softball league.

The Falcons also practice in between games, opting for one of the diamonds with dirt instead of gravel.

“You’re less likely to get scratched up. You can see my legs here, they’re looking like hamburger meat,” says Muir, pointing down to his legs, scuffed up from base-running.

Church group volleyball. - JONATHAN BRIGGINS
  • Church group volleyball.
  • Jonathan Briggins

A couple metres over from diamond 10, The Oval is jam-packed with people of all ages on rollerblades and bicycles during an open skate. As “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea blasts over the loudspeaker, a kid gracefully wipes out on a scooter.

The patch of grass in the centre of the oval is one of the only large open areas for other sports when softball mania has taken over. A volleyball game is set up, organized weekly by members of the Halifax-Dartmouth Church of Christ.

“I think it’s such a great place to share with other people, to have common ground for people to enjoy,” says Zoë Mackey-Boehner, who tends to relax and watch volleyball rather than participate.

Softball is the new papal visits. - JONATHAN BRIGGINS
  • Softball is the new papal visits.
  • Jonathan Briggins

It’s impossible to walk through the Common without seeing dogs losing their minds, tongues hanging out and doing laps around their owners as they soak up the freedom of a huge park.

“It’s so open and close to everything,” says Corey Urquhart, who takes his dogs Nitro and Chance out for a walk and ball toss every day after work.

As the softball games end, some of the tired players head home to clean up the sweat and recover from the bumps and bruises. The rest will go off to share a beer and celebrate the win or forget about the loss, already anticipating the next night on the Common.

G'night, Halifax. - JONATHAN BRIGGINS
  • G'night, Halifax.
  • Jonathan Briggins

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