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Morris Park to play bocce at Loreto Park

Loreto Park will be bringing back an old tradition for resident to enjoy with the renovation of the worn-down bocce courts.

On Wednesday, November 5, Councilman James Vacca joined Al D’Angelo and Frank Agovino, of the Morris Park Community Association, Ostacio Negron, civilian patrol, and Gino Persichilli, president of the San Gennaro Senior Center, to discuss renovations.

“We started this about 20 years ago, when we had Bocce leagues and barbeques for the seniors and tournaments for people who wanted to play,” said Agovino, past president of the MPCA. “Now we hope everyone will want to play bocce again.”

Bocce is considered a traditionally Italian game. The goal is to hurl the balls as close as possible to a central white ball, and knock the other teams away, while tallying designated points.

Vacca presented the group with a $ 500,000 grant to ensure the full restoration of the bocce area.

“I allocated $ 500,000 for Loreto Park, and our priority is to fix the whole bocce court area, and then use whatever the leftover money we have for other areas,” said Vacca. “This park is heavily used all year and bocce is a great sport going back in history, especially in the Italian American community.”

The request originated from the seniors at the San Gennaro Senior Center who reached out to the MPCA for assistance.

“They used to play in the tournaments and it kept them active,” said Persichilli, referring to the 40 or so seniors at the center located at 1556 Williamsbridge Road.

Renovations will include a canopy for all weather-play and to protect the improved court from damage due to the elements, fencing or netting to protect the area where balls are thrown, and other general repairs.

“When it rains it ruins the dirt and sand and then we would have to spend time and money each time to fix it before using it again,” said D’Angelo. “A canopy over the top would be used so the rain doesn’t destroy the field.”

With any additional money, improvements will be made in other areas, such as relocation of the baseball diamond, which currently is hazardous to children in the park who are exposed to balls hit over the fence.

President of MPCA, D’Angelo, would like to see significant improvements on the early childhood equipment in the park. “The equipment is antiquated and really needs a face lift.”

The bocce area is hoped to be completed by fall of 2009 for all Morris Park residents to enjoy.

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