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TOWER- The official temperature in Tower on the morning of Jan. 28 was -34.5, but that didn’t deter over 60 people from spending the day outside on the ice on the East Two River by the Your …
TOWER- The official temperature in Tower on the morning of Jan. 28 was -34.5, but that didn’t deter over 60 people from spending the day outside on the ice on the East Two River by the Your Boat Club Marina.
The Finlander Bocce Ball tournament was sponsored by the Tower-Soudan Lake Vermilion Events Board. Entry fees were all returned as prize money to the top four teams, though the top team donated most of their prize money back to the events board, which also organizes and fundraises for the Fourth of July festivities.
Finlander bocce is a conglomeration of bocce ball and curling. It may have been invented in Tower around 40 years ago, when tournaments were organized by both Kathy Yernatich and Rod Politano, according to Brenda Broten. Brenda and her late husband Dan restarted the event in Tower around 15 years ago, as part of a chamber-sponsored Long John Days winter festival. Brenda said when the event was held at Moccasin Point, there were as many as 60 teams competing.
“We had about 40 teams for Long John Days,” Brenda said, “and eight to ten rinks out on the ice.”
If anyone has more information on how this game originated, please contact the Timberjay.
The game is played with round wooden disks with simple handles on ice lanes, similar to curling but without the finesse. Players mostly end up on their bellies as they try to get their teams’ wooden pucks closest to the “jack” as it is known in bocce, the first ball rolled out in the game.
Volunteers (and their plows) had cleared four lanes down to the ice, which then was flooded just prior to the competition to give the ice a nice clean coating, though the lanes were still rough enough to lend an air of chance into the day’s competition.
The new location at Your Boat Club had ample room for participants to set up portable ice fishing shelters to provide warmth between time out on the ice. Most players came stocked with provisions, jokingly referred to as antifreeze. There were bonfires lit near each of the lanes.
The event was supported with donations from IBI Construction, Vermilion Storage, and Bruce Carlson. Volunteers included Brent Peterson, Kenny Folstad, John C. Mroszak Jr., Jennifer Manick, and the former president of the events board Julie Johnson.
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