Down by the creek, under the giant oaks, I could make out a jumble of bright colors moving randomly side to side, and hear muffled voices punctuated by sudden shouts, or groans. I walked down the path through the grove and across the foot bridge, followed the sidewalk past the horseshoe court and then could see groups of people spilling out of the Pavilion across the lawn on one side to awning-topped tables, and down wide steps to the bocce court on the other side. Some wearing colorful shirts circled around the coffee urns, tiered trays of fruit and pastries sheltered in the garden building.
This morning, Friday, April 17, marked the start of the summer season at PVE. Two traditions combine for a winning combination that draws a sizable number of residents each Friday morning until October, the complimentary PVE Continental Breakfasts and guaranteed entertainment in the form of bocce team competition from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. There is something to see, taste and enjoy in all of this.
Bocce is a growing sport of choice for the retiree demographic across the country. Centuries old, the game endures for the same reasons it is popular at PVE. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can play it. It doesn’t take long to learn or play. It is fun when you win, but not a disaster if you lose – every player does both at some point. It lends itself to team bonding.
At PVE, bocce has been building over the years in participation and excitement. We now have 189 players versus 145 last year, sorted into 23 teams, an increase of 4. For the first time, every single team has dreamed up a name for itself, which inevitably led to theme outfits for those so inclined. Team Peaceniks, so called because they all live on Peace Court, scouted out tie-died tee shirts and headbands. Another merry band, the Tortilla Flat Flamingos, wore flaming pink shirts, hats, sunglasses, and positioned a flock of plastic flamingos near the rail to oversee the game. The Green Hornets were in neon-green shirts and white slacks. The 6 Shooters, Team 6, wore cowboy hats and denim shirts and jeans. More examples abound.
As the season progresses, cumulative scores are posted in the Residents’ Mail Room. When several teams begin to build win records, the tension builds. By late September, a crowd will gather to watch to top team matches and it can be fairly noisy. Always it is in fun.
For me, one of the happiest days of the year is the first Friday morning Continental Breakfast and bocce match; the saddest is the last day.