"We want [bocce] to be everywhere," said Will Murphy, one of the five organizers of Wicker Park Bocce Club.
His group is one step closer to city-wide bocce domination, with construction set to begin on a Pilsen court later this month. Currently, the bocce club has an open-to-the-public court at Damen Avenue and Crystal Street, and will add this second court at the intersection of Halsted and 21st streets, across from Nightwood restaurant.
People who want to play on the courts can sign up through a league, or drop in to a neighborhood bar and borrow a bocce set for free (just leave a credit card or ID as collateral). In Wicker Park, The Boundary holds on to the bocce set, though a Pilsen bar has yet to be announced.
The Wicker Park Bocce Club, which began last summer as an informal coalition of enthusiasts, has expanded to include this second location as well as mobile bocce courts that the group sets up at events, weddings, beaches and festivals. WPBC hopes to add a Wrigleyville court as soon as budget allows.
"We love the idea of it being free to the public, but obviously we need money to make these courts," Murphy said, citing the courts' $15,000 construction price tag. "The first one came from donations and us just saving our pennies. A lot of pennies."
More events—including a bus trip to Michigan—are planned for the summer. Check the WPBC website for details.