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Bocce anyone?

Special Olympics Ambassador Jeff Fritz, Perham, speaking at a Lions meeting March 4.

"Bocce Madness" will overtake Perham in July, as the town hosts as many as 300 bocce-rolling Special Olympians for a major tournament.

Bocce ball players from a wide area will be congregating under the water tower on the south side of Perham July 15.

That was a report from Jeff Fritz, Perham, who is also a "Global Messenger" for Special Olympics. Fritz updated the Perham Lions March 4 on Special Olympics activities.

Bocce ball is one of the heaviest-participation sports in Special Olympics, and this year, Perham will be the host instead of Moorhead. Special portable courts will be shipped in for the event, and will augment the city's present courts, which are on Perham school grounds, under the water tower.

Local Special Olympics organizers are looking for volunteers for the large undertaking.

"Lakes Lions, Ottertail Lions and Perham Lions clubs may contribute volunteer-power to the event," said Fritz.

A "lawn game" somewhat related to bowling and croquet, bocce has a common ancestry from ancient games played in the Roman Empire.

Developed into its modern form in Italy (where it is called bocce, the plural of the Italian word boccia which means "bowl"), it is played around the world.

In Minnesota, bocce has a long tradition on the Iron Range, which is an ethnic melting pot. At one time, former Minnesota Gov. Rudy Perpich proposed naming bocce as the official state lawn game.