It's an exciting time for the Donna Gedlich Memorial Bocce Tournament.
The fourth-year event, dedicated to the city recorder and city council member who served for 43 years, is scheduled for 9 a.m. on July 22 with an 8 a.m. check-in at Gaetano 'Bill' Marinelli Court at Scappoose Veterans Park.
Bocce is an Italian game in which a team strives to roll its four multi-colored balls closer to the small, white pallino at the far end of the court than the other's and, as the defending champion City Slickers of Portland prefer the horse race of United States Bocce Federation play, the social Gedlich Memorial is ready to celebrate new heroes.
"It's an opportunity to get the family together and test their skills with people who like to play bocce," said Marinelli, 82, the courts' namesake who brought the game to town with Gedlich's help and where Special Olympics Oregon practices when not at George Fox University in Newberg. "In the old country, it was village against village or vineyard against vineyard."
The first-, second- and third-place finishers all receive ribbons, and first-place teams will see their names forever more on a year-by-year championship plaque at city hall.
"I'm surprised more people aren't up there [playing on the courts]," said David Flori, who owns a construction company in St. Helens and started playing bocce with his Scappoose Foursquare Church men's group when the courts came in in 2014. "I'm looking forward to hopefully getting the guys together and hopefully playing as a team."
51929 SE Woodmere Court
Scappoose, OR 97056.
Please include a team name with registration.
Marinelli's team is Amiczia, and Paul Zanabelli, a retired Portland School District teacher whose family came from the Italian region of Genoa and who used to lead bocce lessons, is ready to roll with his grandson, nephew and brother on Italia Uno.
"The reason I like playing is because the [Scappoose] courts are so nice," said Zanabelli, a Portland native and Vancouver, Wash., resident of nearly 35 years. "We know other teams, and we get along well."
Players are encouraged to bring chairs, coolers, drinks and lunch, and parking is open at the north end of the courts.
"My team will likely be my daughter and two nephews," said Steve Sayler, an electrical engineer who brought his bocce skills to St. Helens from Marin County, Calif., and started playing with Marinelli around 1990. "I hope it's not oppressively hot."
Sayler will lead Team Velletri, named for his late wife's family's native Italian city.