Near the entrance of the park, there are three bocce courts, which are very popular in Marine Park. The bocce courts, with the exception of tournaments, are first-come, first-served. People who wish to play bocce tend to come early since the Italian sport is growing in popularity. In Marine Park, bocce is mostly played by older Italian men, who bring food and drinks, such as soda or juice (no alcohol), to the courts year-round. Bocce is the one sport played in Marine Park that may be considered to be a “non-American” sport. There are several men watching the game on the benches while others are leaning against the sides of the court.
There are groups of men who have formed a bocce tournament at the bocce courts in Marine Park. When we asked one of the frequent players who is allowed to play bocce, he replied with “anybody can play, there’s no such thing as saying because you’re Jewish, you’re Italian, or you’re Irish, it’s anybody’s game.” This sort of racial integration is a theme throughout the park. Anyone can play bocce as long as they have the appropriate equipment. Otherwise they can always just join another game.
When people are not playing bocce, they are actively watching and commenting on the play of others. The viewers can range from young children to senior citizens in their wheelchairs. Although bocce is usually seen being played by men, there are a couple of women who watch the game. The players, in general, are very kind to each other. They go around handing out juice to everyone. The group of players that we met play in Marine Park very often, so they store their equipment in the park itself. Overall, the bocce players are very open to anyone watching or playing with them. In fact, one of the students in our group was even allowed to try bocce while the men were in the middle of a game (although there was some opposition).
This is how the actual bocce players play the sport at Marine Park.
When asked about why they like playing bocce so much, one player replied, “I like the feeling of having something from home here.” Since many of the players are indeed immigrants, they appreciate the sport because it gives them a way to connect to their heritage.