Pétanque Friends are Gathering in Downtown Fernandina

Registration Day for the 2011 Petanque America Open in Fernandina Beach

Even though it was only supposed to be registration day, several hundred competitors were already on the courts at the downtown marina on Friday.

This is now the third year that smiling faces, hugs, kisses on both cheeks and a Babylon variety of languages turns the second weekend in November into “Fernandina on the French Riviera”.

It turns out that most players and their families have already been in town for several days or are planning to stay for another week or ten day after the  Pétanque America Open tournament. Friday was set aside for registration, a number of clinics, for beginners to learn the ropes and for advanced players to marvel at what can be done with three metal balls and a little piglet.

Names are yelled across the court as yet another set of players meets up with new  and old friends they haven’t seen since last year’s tournament. This Friday afternoon is a Chamber of Commerce afternoon, with a sunset that makes everyone drop their boules for a quick photo break.

The bars are open, Ricard is flowing freely, the band of local musicians under Dan Voll’s musical direction, has started up and Philippe Boets is happy. Smiling from ear to ear he says: “Wouldn’t it be great to have this once a month on this waterfront.” I shake my head. I know Philippe and I know what it takes for him and TJ and a group of enthusiastic volunteers, to put this together.  And once again it all came beautifully together and the weather, although brisk, seems to hold nicely for the weekend. Colorful tents, strip lights, live music and games for people to have fun even though it is serious fun once the competitions starts.

After the sun set, it became almost surreal when local downtown restaurants like Kelly’s Courtyard, Lulu’s, Café Karibo, Arte’s Pizza and others started to bring in gratuitous delicious dishes for the  players and organizers. Truly, Amelia island and historic Fernandina are rapidly making friends all over the world. Friends that look forward to coming back year after year.

If you have a chance this weekend, come on down to the river front where the boat trailer parking lot has been transformed into 136 playing courts and a village of entertainment, food and bars. It’s officially Pétanque America weekend in the city (Philippe has a Proclamation to prove it). Come out and have fun and learn why this game is rapidly conquering the island and the country. And if you see our cameras, smile….because you’re going to be on video.

2011 Petanque America on Amelia Island

Players from around the World at 2011 Petaque Tournament Fernandina Beach

Evrywhere Petanque is played, Ricard is available

I dropped the ball yesterday

dropping_ball_1a1Judie had asked me to publish a couple of extra stories for Wednesday as she was not going to be back from Las Vegas until very late. In my usual manner I said sure no problem and was fully set on bringing you some stories about Red Box versus Blockbuster, and show you physical proof how you can save more than a hundred dollars on utilities every month.
Well like the expression goes, the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions. I was going to climb into the computer for an hour or so after dinner and post a couple stories. Not so……. By the time I was getting ready (or as they say in the South) fixing to make dinner, a car stopped in the driveway and out comes my friend and Amelia’s newest attraction Philippe with a wide grin on his face, a bottle of Ricard in one hand and a bag full of Ricard glasses in the other.

He told me that the guys at 5 Points Liquor were very helpful and had supplied him with a case of Ricard within a day. Here I have to explain that Ricard is an acquired taste. Anisette, liqorice with a hint of health promises, Ricard goes with the game of Petanque, as Budweiser goes with Football. You pour a bit on the bottom of the glass and fill the rest with ice water to your taste.

To make a long story short(er), four glasses later our conversation turned to SearchAmelia and my question why he had removed the site’s link from his website Petanque America.

Well he said,” I’m coming to Paradise and my friends and petanque buddies from all over the world want to come and visit as well. They love the small scale, neighborly feel of Amelia Island that I have described as colorful as I can in my emails, on my website and blogs. SearchAmelia was the site I would sent them too to get a better feel of this friendly and beautiful place. So when I announced the upcoming November open tournament here on the island, I noticed several news reports on the website’s homepage that informed the readers on some serious crimes committed on the island. Now I know just like any normal person that crime happens anywhere and everywhere, no matter how idyllic or relaxed the place is, but to find it on the homepage of the leading website about Amelia Island was a little disturbing to me and potentially to my ‘petanques as wel’l.¬† So I took the link off.”

Well that got me thinking for a bit, helped by another glass of “rosy view of the world” Ricard, and I saw the merit of his story. SearchAmelia is in essence a good story news site, at least that was the intention when we started. The challenge of being the first one to report on events that happen on the island however was there from the beginning, since our island Newsleader only comes out on Wednesday and Friday which leaves a lot of open ground to cover, a news-hound challenge we accepted without much thought.

Philippe’s opinion started to make sense to me. There is a lot we can report and write about on SearchAmelia without having to report crime stories. Crime stories are the playing field of the printed media and TV. I took the 4 or 5 crime stories off the website (which of course is hardly anything for a year of publishing) but do invite you the reader, to offer us your opinion as well. We like a good discussion with strong pros and cons, so please let us know what your opinion is in an open discussion. Anyway by the time the bottle of Ricard showed its tail, the clock had already passed the point of posting stories, which is why yesterday’s line up was rather skinny. Won’t let it happen again. Happy to report however that SearchAmelia.com is proudly backlinked to PetanqueAmerica.com again.