Thursday, April 29, 2010

Unexpecting, Fun Activities in Bryant Park - Petanque/Boules, Ping Pong, Chess, Fencing and more!

Bryant Park is always a great place to have your lunch on a sunny day, but did you know that Bryant Park has a number of organized games in the park? I didn't, but I do now - Petanque (some people may be more familiar with the game Bocce or Boules), Ping Pong and Chess. In addition to this, the Park's website boasts a variety of other activities, during the day and at night. Some of the more familiar activities include the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival (which, btw begins June 21st), and not-so-familiar events include free Fencing, Tai-Chi, and Yoga classes. There are also birding tours and piano and poem reading performances. For more information on times and dates of these events, check out the park's calendar.

Petanque also known as Boules originated from Southern France and is very similar to Bocce (Italian). As seen in the photo to the right, the game is played while standing in a small circle, and the goal is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally "piglet") or jack. The game is played by teams of one, two or three players and the team that reaches 13 points wins. When all the balls are thrown, the round is complete and the points are calculated as follows: One point for the team that is closest to the jack (winner of the round) and extra points are given for each ball nearer to the jack than the opponent's closest ball. Then another round begins until that magical number 13 is achieved. The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel, never on grass or pavement.

There are also Petanque clubs in New York and I met Dana Jackson (person top left) at Bryant Park and he is part of the La Boule New Yorkaise Petanque club New York City. He mentioned there are a lot of different throwing styles in this game and as you will see in the photos -- some people stand straight up and throw the ball, some bend and throw the ball with a twist, while others look like they are bowling. :D Whatever they are doing, it works if the metal ball gets the closest to the jack! And for those serious competitors, there are international tournaments. In the photo below, the person wearing the yellow City Sights Ticket Agent Jacket has won an international competition (or so, the people there said!).

So if you're interested in Petanque/Bocce, you can join them anytime. There is always ONE teacher there who can teach you how the game is played. Or if this isn't your game, try Chess or Ping Pong during the day. Remember, there are a lot of activities at Bryant Park that are bound to grab your attention -- if all else fails, just bring a blanket and sprawl out on the lawn with your lunch!

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