By Patrick Kampert
Tribune staff reporter
May 27, 2007
Please forgive the members of the Chicago Petanque Club as they compare themselves, tongue in cheek, to hoops star Ben Wallace and company: "The Chicago Boules: It's not just a basketball team anymore."
Clearly, they need to work on their puns. But their sporting skills are doing just fine. Q told you about the club last September, when the French version of bocce ball drew teams from Michigan and Kentucky to west suburban Forest Park for the fledgling organization's first-ever tournament. But Saturday's Midwest Petanque Tournament is scheduled for a higher-profile venue: Grant Park's Hutchinson Field No. 7, near Balbo and Columbus Drives.
The growth has surprised club President Dan Danielson, who has seen his group double in size to two dozen members in the last year.
"I didn't know what to expect," he said. "For a game that's virtually unknown, it's interesting how people hear about it."
Sometimes they just stumble across the club practicing. That's what happened a couple of weeks ago as a young man passing by the park in Forest Park stopped to visit. The man told Danielson that he had played petanque as a child but hadn't seen anyone else tossing the metal balls (called boules) since a vacation in Paris. The group also has added practice locations in Bridgeport and Naperville.
Forty people are signed up for Saturday's Grant Park tourney, which begins at 11 a.m. and lasts until early evening. Spectators are welcome.
And as Chicago continues its lobbying for the 2016 Olympic Games, Danielson's group will be doing its part to help. The petanque club will give a demonstration in Millennium Park on June 23 as part of "The World of Games," sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Later in the summer, on Aug. 10, the club will be back at Millennium Park for the city's "Games Galore" presentation.
If you want more information or just want to offer another bad pun to the club (how about "the Chicago Petanque Club is on a roll"), visit chicagopetanque.com or call Danielson at 708-366-3768.
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