Bocce players have a ball on the beach

Bocce players have a ball on the beach
Robert Ridgeway of Solana Beach and Aaron Gaeir, aka Snow White and Cinderella, won this year’s costume contest. Photos by Bianca Kaplanek

DEL MAR — It’s probably not what Walt had in mind — adult men dressed as his famed princesses drinking beer at 9 a.m. — but Del Mar’s dog beach seemed like the happiest place on Earth on July 15 during the 37th Vigilucci’s Beach Bocce World Championship.

Brothers Sam and Ed Montini, who make up team Corn Flakes, are still wearing the same hats they created eight years ago for the tournament. And for eight years running, they failed to advance past the first bracket.

That was especially true for costume contest winners Robert Ridgeway of Solana Beach and Aaron Gaeir, aka Snow White and Cinderella, who were part of The Disney Derelicts from Grandesign Media Services.

Other gender-swapping costumed characters from the sponsoring team included Wyatt Buttrose as Ariel and Cristina Romero as King Triton from “The Little Mermaid,” Grady Moore as Princess Jasmine and Tawnie Moore as Jafar from “Aladdin” and Kelsey McCormick as Capt. Hook and Alexis Ruiz as the title character from “Peter Pan.”

The once-again sold-out event netted about $105,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad, bringing the total amount raised since the first tournament in 1981 to more than $1.2 million.

There were 420 two-person teams who played 1,002 games on 83 courts in a round-robin format in four divisions — men’s open, men’s intermediate, women and mixed.

This year’s winners:

Men’s Open

1st Place — Brothers McBocce, the defending champions from Encinitas, Adam and Sean Simon

2nd Place — Sandballers, Rod Becker and Kevin Pugh

Men’s Intermediate

1st Place — Deboccery

2nd Place — Good Guys, Rich Morgan and Scott Raider

Teams Bocce Ballin’ and Balls of Fury are, from left, Mimi Valentin of Vista, Heather Pratt of Encinitas, Mariela Moreno of Vista and Evelia Morales of Oceanside.

Women’s Division

1st Place — Two Dragons, Kristen Bailey and Amy Dale

2nd Place — Beach Bocce Blonde Hairdos, Cristie Anderson and Lauren Armstrong

Mixed Division

1st Place — Sandy Shenanigans, the defending champions, Adam and Melissa Kasarda

2nd Place — Ryan and Sarena, Ryan and Sarena Alexander

Many decades ago Carl Bettis, John Manson, Pete Peters, Del Pifer, John Leslie and Bob O’Keefe noticed a group of guys playing bocce ball on the beach every year before the race track opened and eventually joined in.

When they decided to make a tournament out of it they wanted to include the guys who introduced them to the game. Since they were primarily in town for the races, the event is almost always held the weekend before opening day at the Del Mar Racetrack.

In the beginning, 54 teams competed to raise about $500 for the Del Mar Lifeguard Association.

Lifeguards still receive a portion of the proceeds, but the major beneficiary became the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito for the first 25 years and the Carlsbad chapter after that.

In addition to the games there is an online and silent auction and food prepared by title sponsor Roberto Vigilucci.

The tournament always attracts longtime players as well as first-timers, such as Carlsbad resident Kelly Sales.

“I think this is something I’m going have to do every year for the rest of my life,” she said.

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