After 14 years of playing wherever, Seaside finally got its first dedicated petanque courts Monday afternoon.
A ribbon cutting was held next to Bud & Alley's Pizza Bar for the new petanque courts and celebrated with pizza and champagne.
The use of the site was donated by homeowners Calvin and Frances Fayard and William Sasser.
Seaside Town Founders Robert and Daryl Davis donated the landscaping for the three courts which are 13 feet wide by 50 feet long.
Architectural design of the area was by Curtis and Wyndham Architects of Houston.
Pétanque is a form of boules where the goal is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally "piglet") or jack. It is also sometimes called a bouchon (literally "cork") or le petit ("the small one"). The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel, but can also be played on grass, sand or other surfaces. It is similar to bocce.
The game of petanque was introduced at Seaside in 1999 by then Seaside jeweler Laurent Braconnier, who taught Bud & Alley's owner Dave Rauschkolb to play. They, in turn, taught two more and it grew from there, said Rauschkolb. Now, about 12 to 15 players play the game regularly and more when homeowners and their guests are in town.
A few years back, Seaside even hosted a national petanque tournament in its Ruskin Place park, and Seaside homeowner Bill Sabella won a national tournament four years ago.
When Braconnier introduced the game to Seaside, play was in Ruskin Place, but as the park grew busier, and the game more popular play had to be moved to a small area in front of the Seaside Chapel where serious players met every afternoon at 4.
The newly dedicated courts located next to Bud & Alley's Pizza Bar will be much better, said Rauschkolb.
"There is bike parking and park benches, and there is easy access to food, drink, and bathroom facilities nearby," he said.
The idea for the petanque park came from Davis and was spurred on by Rauschkolb, who remains an avid player. Both wanted to beautify the area next to Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar and to provide a fun place for Seaside regulars and guests to play the game, said Seaside Director of Marketing, Lori Smith, and Davis was able to work out an arrangement with the lot's owners.
Two of the three courts have a lime rock screening surface and one touts a Bermuda sod for variety. The park is equipped with overhead lights so the game can be enjoyed anytime.
Central Square Records in the town's circle sells petanque equipment of boules and kits.
About a dozen of the game's regulars came out for the ribbon cutting and to watch Rauschkolb throw out the first ball. Rauschkolb provided the free pizza and champagne to celebrate.
"It's a wonderful addition to Seaside," he said.
The courts are free to use and open to anyone. And if you don't know how to play the game, Rauschkolb said players who are out there will teach you.