DEL MAR — Some came from down the street. Others were from out of state. Many wore costumes. A few had team names not fit to print.
But the more than 1,000 players and spectators who attended the 36th Vigilucci’s Beach Bocce World Championship, held July 9 at Dog Beach, were all there to have fun and raise money for charity.
The once-again sold-out event took in about $100,000, bringing the total amount raised since the first tournament in 1981 to more than $1.1 million.
At the end of the day 411 two-person teams played 999 games on 81 courts in a round-robin format in four divisions — men’s open, men’s intermediate, women and mixed.
When the tournament began, 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.
Carl Bettis, John Manson, Pete Peters, Del Pifer, John Leslie and Bob O’Keefe started the event to pass time on the beach.
They noticed a group of guys playing bocce ball on the beach every year before the race track opened and eventually joined in.
When the tournament started, the founders 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 addition to the games the event includes an online and silent auction and food prepared by title sponsor Roberto Vigilucci.
Best costume winners, a title held for many consecutive years by The Wankers, sponsors of the much-appreciated “wanker” port-o-potty station, this year went to The Wrestlers from Grandesign Media Services.
Team members included Aaron Gaeir, Bob Ridgeway, Cristina Romero, Tawnie Moore, Grady Moore and Wyatt Buttrose.