Features NY Life — 31 January 2011
Sunday, The Best Day of the Week? Play Bocce Ball At Union Hall!

After a long week of work, we all desire to have a relaxing yet fun weekend. The days of Friday and Saturday are ones that we hold sacred. Maybe your best friend from high school is getting married,  or you have an important fund raising event on March 19th. Either way, the weekends are a time where we can let our hair down and spend time with the ones we love or even like alot. Although the weekend may mean Friday and Saturday, we often forget about Sunday. Yes, I know it is a holy day to some, and the day right before another five day week but why not use it wisely and do something fun?

Time and time again, we’ve written about the Park Slope section of Brooklyn- full of great bars and restaurants. But the entertainment venue Union Hall has your answer for some excellent Sunday Funday action. On any given night Union Hall plays host to excellent comedy and musical performances in their entertainment space, located on the lower level of the venue. But on the weekend, specifically Sundays, Union Hall is known for one thing, bocce ball! Bocce ball has been long considered a game that older gentleman play at the park.  Fortunately this is no longer true. And Union Hall is the reason.

Upon entering Union Hall, you notice their excellent front bar area which has been made to look like a library- complete with a working fireplace- perfect for winter. But the true gem lies just a few feet away: the bocce court. Union Hall considers bocce ball so important to their business that they have devoted more than half of the bar to two huge courts. The history of bocce ball’s popularity in Brooklyn is not new and before Union Hall opened its door’s it’s creators operated Floyd, which is still in business today. That’s where they realized that taking a well known leisure sport and making it into something that could sustain a weekly following, with full leagues and seasons being established would be incredibly successful.

Yes Union Hall and Floyd are the home to the largest if not only bocce ball leagues in New York. This past Sunday some friends of mine who are on a team, within the bocce league, invited me down to see how much fun could be had on a Sunday afternoon. First off, the place was packed. Sunday is the prime day for bocce league play, and many teams were in attendance. Each team ranges in size, with alternates waiting in the wings to sub-in. This is a perfect way to give everyone a chance, and it really helps make this fun activity, fair. Once they started playing I could see what they were talking about. Both teams treated each other with alot of respect. Therefore, sportsmanship is huge. Yes, there may be some light ribbing, but everyone is here to have fun, and at the same time get a nice buzz on.

Speaking of the teams, creativity and a sense of humor goes along way in Union Hall’s bocce league. This all starts with the name the teams’ monikers. Names can be anything so long as they are not offensive and most of the teams choose to go the silly route. Teams also make up shirts and/or jerseys for members to wear during league play. This all helps to make Sunday bocce a fun and creative event. The way these teams have turned bocce from something that had been long considered as an elderly persons game into something that could be cool and kitschy really had me thinking that I need to be part of this. I have many friends who participate in kickball and dodgeball leagues, so hey, maybe ill be the bocce guy.

If you are even the slightest bit interested in league bocce ball play at Union Hall or Floyd do yourself a favor and check out the website right away. It’s popularity is ever-growing, so space is limited. Even though the league is meant to be fun, it is still a week to week commitment. So if you plan on forming a team, make sure you do it with people who are serious about competing for the duration. It also doesn’t hurt that you are steps away from a bar with excellent beers, and very good prices. They also have excellent food. We highly recommend either the Floyd Burger, or the Basket of Corn Dogs, which have been battered in Pabst Blue Ribbon beer- great touch! So, really how can you lose here. These sports are here to stay, so why not head over to Union Hall next week and see what it’s all about. You may find out that you are the next great bocce champ, and go pro. Well, that’s if they ever make it a professional sport. Fingers crossed- it happened for curling. But seriously, league bocce ball play is a superb way to have a ton of fun on a Sunday afternoon, meeting lots of funny like minded people. Hey, in this city its hard to make new friends, especially ones like you so you really can not go wrong there.

- Alan Smithee

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