The annual Queens Borough Bocce Tournament will take place at the courts in Middle Village’s Juniper Valley Park on Saturday, Sept. 10. Four-people teams (adults 18 and older) will compete for two slots to face the best of the other boroughs at the citywide finals in Staten Island on Sept. 17.
There is no cost to participate or spectate, and registration starts at 8:30 a.m. with the first game at 9 a.m.
Bocce (also written “bocci” or “boccie”) developed in Italy during the 19th century. The sport actually tells the demographic history of Italian immigration to the Big Apple. Hot spots have included street corners from throughout Little Italy in Manhattan, Dyker Park in Brooklyn’s Bensonhurst, Ciccarone Park on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, and two Queens venues: William F. Moore Park in Corona and Juniper Valley.
The first public courts in New York City were created in 1934 as per orders of Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia in Thomas Jefferson Park in Manhattan’s East Harlem, which was then a predominantly Italian neighborhood. By 1958, public bocce courts could be found at 27 city parks.
The goal is to toss metal balls closest to a “pallino” (smaller ball) in order to gain points for a team. Players can use finesse to place their balls near the pallino or use accuracy and strength to knock away the opposing team’s placements.
In case of rain, the championship will take place the following day, Sunday, Sept. 11, at the same venue in Middle Village.