Maspeth Lions host First Annual Bocce Tournament

All proceeds from event go to charity

By Jessica Meditz

Lance Lovejoy, Jack Leone, Vincenzo Gattoni, Joe Cucchiara, Mike Vastarelli & son, Joe Papavero.

Cigar smoke and Frank Sinatra songs were in the air in Frank Principe Park last Sunday.

The Maspeth Lions Club gathered on the court in anticipation of their First Annual Bocce Tournament.

The game of bocce that folks know and love today stems from Italy, hence why you may hear exchanges of “Come stai?” on the court. 

The game involves eight colored balls, typically red and green, and another smaller white ball, called the “boccino.”

At Sunday’s game, a younger player asked about the rules — to which another player replied, “You throw the ball and hope it gets closer to the other ball.” 

“We chose bocce because anybody can play the game. Young, old, you don’t have to be in the greatest shape; you can play outside on a nice day…it’s nice,” said Joseph Papavero, president of the Maspeth Lions Club. “A big thank you to Councilman Bob Holden and the Parks Department because the courts were redone just in time for the tournament.”

Aside from the game itself, another highlight of the event was the food donated by local establishments, including Frank’s Deli, Mario’s Meats & Deli, Iavarone Bros., Rosa’s Pizza, 69th Street Beer Distributors and Jim Von Eiff State Farm Insurance.

In addition, the bocce tournament was sponsored by Maspeth Federal Savings, Papavero Funeral Home, Maspeth Contracting and E3TECH, LLC.

All the proceeds from the event went to charitable causes both near and far — from the St. Stanislaus Sports Program to the Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Fund.

In addition to raising funds for charity, the Lions took the time to enjoy the day and see it as a bonding experience.

“I used to play bocce all the time when I’d go upstate in the Catskills for 20-something years and we always had a tournament. It’s something I play with my kids too,” said Mike Aylward, a member of the Maspeth Lions Club.

“I’ve been a proud member of the Maspeth Lions Club for 30 years and I love it,” said Robert Marchese, membership chairman. “This is a fantastic turnout and to raise money for charity, this is a great event and project.”

After all was said and done, only one team walked away victorious from the tournament — this time it was the father-son duo of Jack and Mark Leone.

“We’re thankful to be a part of the Maspeth Lions Club, and we hope to be here again next year.”

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