AUGUST 25-27 – Wickliffe I&A Grounds
Wickliffe, Ohio – The Wickliffe Italian-American Club announced that the 34th Annual Pat O’Brien Chevrolet Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce will be held on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday August 25th, 26th, and 27th at the Wickliffe Italian-American Club located at 29717 Euclid Avenue in Wickliffe, Ohio 44092. The event features 96 competing bocce teams from Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachussets, Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, Florida, Mississippi, California, and Canada. Last year’s winner was the local Adelio’s Contracting team, consisting of players in their early to mid 30’s from the Mayfield area, in only their 2nd tournament playing together. They will be returning to defend their title again along with the Women’s Division Champs, Bottiglieri’s Lawn Care from Niles, Ohio.
The opening ceremonies will begin at 6:00 p..m. on Friday August 25th, with the national anthem of the U.S.A, Italy, and Canada being sung by 16 year-old Giovanni Castiglione of Solon. Tournament play begins directly afterward and will run continuously through Sunday night on the nine covered bocce courts. The Wickliffe Italian-American Club will present the top 16 teams with cash prizes totaling $17,200. To enter a team in this year’s tournament, call Paul DiCicco (440-552-1865). Applications will also be available at the 5 Pat O’Brien Chevrolet stores in Willoughby Hills, Westlake, Vermillion, Norwalk, and Medina starting in July, as well as various Key Bank locations and can also
be downloaded from the club’s website.
Entertainment will run throughout the weekend in the covered pavilion, Saturday also features cultural activities from noon to 3 p.m. hosted by Paul Sciria from La Gazzetta Italian Newspaper. Sunday is Family Day and will once again feature a variety of entertainment and activities for children including Magician Rick Smith Jr; an appearance by “Jungle Terry” , and DJ Dave spinning music. A wide variety of food vendors will provide homemade Italian food and specialty dishes as well as traditional American fare.
2017 Schedule of Events
Friday, August 25th:
- 5:30 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies, National Anthems sung by Gio Castiglione
- 6:00 p.m. – Tournament play begins
- 7:00 – 11:00 p.m. – Live music by Cavalieri Reale
Saturday, August 26th:
- 8:00 a.m. – Tournament play resumes
- Noon to 3:00 p.m. – Italian Cultural Activities in the Pavillion
- Emcee Angie Spitalieri, Publisher of LaGazzetta Italian Newspaper
- Jim Frank Trio
- Cooking Demonstration by Chef Dan of the Euclid Culinary School
- Appearance by Miss Italia
- Photo display from the Western Reserve Historical Society on the History of Italians in Cleveland (In the Club Room)
- 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Live Entertainment by Bobby Leach (Sinatra music)
- 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. – Live Broadcast with Tony Marotta of Radio Italia/Cleveland; WRUW 91.1 FM
- 8:00 – Midnight – Live music by SUMRADA
Sunday, August 27th:
- 8:00 a.m. – Tournament play resumes
- Noon – 1:00 p.m. – Live Broadcast with Carmelina Antonelli’s “Touch of Italy” show; WELW 1330 AM
- 1:00 – 1:50 p.m. – Magic Show with Rick Smith Jr.
- 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. – Jungle Terry Exotic Animal Show
- 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. – DJ Dave
- 4:00 p.m. – Women’s Division Championship (approximate time)
- 6:00 p.m. – Men’s Division Championship (approximate time)
The event is partially funded with a grant from the Lake County Visitors Bureau. As part of the grant reward process, 9 judges review the applications submitted and give scores based on various criteria. The Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce received an overall score of 98.85 (out of 100), tied for the top score out of the 19 organizations that applied. Some of the comments of the judges were as follows:
- Amazing Event!
- International event, hundreds of overnight stays
- It is a unique cultural experience
- Well documented tourism impact
- A model project for this grant
THE WICKLIFFE ITALIAN AMERICAN CLUB is a community-based social/fraternal organization established in 1932 for people of Italian ancestry who live in the city of Wickliffe, Ohio ( a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio). The club actively promotes and recognizes those of Italian descent who have furthered the Italian cultural bond that they they share, and offers educational programs for the children and grandchildren of it’s members, as well as awarding college scholarships each year to those who have demonstrated knowledge and pride in their Italian heritage. The Pat O’Brien Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce Tournament is now in its 33nd year and has grown from 16 teams to 96 teams, with attendance hitting over 12.000 once again in 2015. It is still the largest men’s bocce tournament in the Midwest.
2016 Tournament Recap
“There’s somethin’ happening here; what it is, ain’t exactly clear….” These lyrics from the old Buffalo Springfield song sum up this year’s Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce where the winds of change continue to blow. Powerhouse teams from traditional bocce strongholds such as Toronto, Rome, NY., and East Haven, Connecticut along with regional teams from Youngstown/Warren/Niles all gathered to compete again this year in Wickliffe. Even teams from as far as Maryland and Mississippi found their way here, as this tournament continues to gain prestige within the bocce world.
The story the last two years was the emergence of a young team from Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood (all under 27) that stormed through the tournament undefeated both years. Would they be able to repeat for a 3rd consecutive year and rival the old Rainbow Creek/Toronto teams that actually accomplished that feat twice (1987-1989; 1998-2000)? Well the answer was a resounding NO! The competition was fierce, and if you didn’t bring your “A” game every time out, you weren’t around long. However, another relatively young local team, Adelio’s Contracting, emerged this year and steadily worked their way through the winner’s bracket to position themselves as a solid contender, while many of the traditional powerhouse teams – including last year’s runner-up and 2013 champions, Palazzo 777 along with mighty Rainbow Creek, and East Haven, CT all lost a game and had to fight through the loser’s bracket.
In only their 2nd tournament together, Adelio’s defeated Rainbow Creek in the championship game by a score of 16-11 to capture the 2016 Cleveland Challenge Cup of Bocce. Facing an experienced Rainbow Creek team, Adelio’s came out strong and jumped out to an 8-0 lead with Anthony Melaragno leading the way, hitting point balls away and sticking his ball for point. Rainbow Creek crawled back into the game at 12-6, but Adelio’s came back with 3 points as Rainbow Creek’s hit attempts missed the mark. However the Toronto veterans weren’t done yet, and came right back with 3 points of their own after a rare miss by Melaragno and continued to inch back into the game at 15-11. Adelio’s was finally able to put the game away in Frame 15 with a point shot to the back wall by Sergio DiFranco, grabbing the Challenge Cup trophy by a score of 16-11.
Captain Sergio DiFranco, Richie DiFranco, Mike Ianetta, and Anthony Melaragno, Jr. are all between the ages of 35-40, and several of their fathers (Bruno Ianetta, Tony Melagrano) are local bocce legends – former Challenge Cup winners with the Vandra Brothers teams (1990, 2002, 2010, 2012). Sergio DiFranco’s father – Adelio DiFranco was the 5th man on the team as well as coach and mentor for the younger players, and he is also a well-known bocce player in the area. It looks like the torch is being passed from one generation to the next! But it will be harder and harder to repeat as the level of play of many young local teams – including teams with Wickliffe I&A Members – is rapidly improving.
Congratulations to Wickliffe I&A Members who finished in the Top 16 this year, including: Bryan, Mike, and Pete Vitantonio, Frank Gambatese (Wickliffe I&A #1) who tied for 5th place with Frank DiCillo, Russ Meraglio (Fioritto Funeral Home); Chris Federico (Rompe Le Palle) who tied for 7th place, and Eugene Ciasullo (TC Construction) who tied for 9th place.