The 47th World Series of Bocce attracts hundreds of spectators and supporters

ROME — Competitors from the nearly 130 teams in two divisions of the World Series of Bocce mingled with hundreds of spectators and supporters for a crowd of more than a thousand at the Toccolana Club on Friday, the second day of the event of four days, now in its 47th year.

The World Series kicked off Thursday with the opening ceremonies, the start of women’s division play and three skills competitions. Todd Lanzi has won the sixth annual Facciolo Brothers Spock Shot Challenge. Kristin Ciotti won the women’s scoring contest and Brian Wilcox won the men’s scoring contest.

Joe Mellace, one of the organizers of the event, said it was the highest number of entries for skills competitions at a World Series.

Co-host Mike Ferlo called it a “great turnout” as he headed into his team’s opener on Friday. Weaving through the crowd, he said: “People are just ready. They have been inside for more than two years. The World Series did not take place in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic. “I just want to get out here and enjoy the nice weather.” It was sunny and in the 80s during the first hour of the day’s games at 5 p.m.

Ferlo said this year’s event was special for him, the first since the death of his father, Guy Ferlo, in May. When Mike Ferlo made the first draw on Thursday, he said, it was a tribute to his father.

“It’s going well,” Ferlo said. “The number of spectators is really high.”

Mellace and Ferlo credited Al Scerra and Bernie Colangelo for their work in getting the courts back in top condition for the event. There are 15 courts between indoor and covered outdoor pitches.

Roger Panara and Joe Froio were awaiting their first match of the event for Bottini Funeral Home. “I’m happy to be back,” said Panara, a Roman who played for more than 30 years. He waved to the large crowd. “I was surprised. It’s so early and we have so many people. Panara has three sons at the out-of-town event, one playing in the team and two others as spectators (the one also has its Rome Free Academy class reunion coinciding with the World Series).

“Rome is the bocce center of the east coast,” Panara said. While other tournaments have seen declining attendance, the World Series is picking up shape in 2022, he noted.

“I’m excited,” said Froio, who said he’s played in every World Series so far. He said he was looking forward to seeing people from out of town.

Jerry Fiorini, part of a newly formed team for Kekis Citgo, has been competing in the World Series since high school in 1985.

“It’s great for everyone, for the community,” he said of returning to the World Series after the two-year layoff. “It’s a big part of Rome here. Everyone is there to support the event. He added: “Everyone can see friends they haven’t seen in years. It’s like a family reunion.

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