The league bought umbrellas to replace tents.
Something shady is happening at the John Marble Park bocce courts.
In a good way.
With the three collapsible tents used to provide shade becoming tattered, the more than 20 retirees who regularly use the courts were left to bake in the sun.
Manatee County, which operates the park, already had removed one of the tents due to its condition and had notified the players it was going to remove the other two tents as well. County spokesman Nick Azzara said the county has a policy now prohibiting the use of those kinds of tents, which can cause a safety issue if they are lifted off the ground by high winds.
A former Parks and Natural Resources Department employee had given the tents to the bocce league in 2009.
With players ranging in age from 47 to 87, the bocce league had safety concerns of its own with its players standing in the sun.
“We’re all seniors," said Rosedale's Larry Mandel. "We have skin problems and have to stay out of the sun.”
League organizer Richard Breem, another Rosedale resident, approached the county about helping out.
Now the league has two patio umbrellas provided by the county with the caveat the players take the umbrellas down after their game and store them in the equipment shed. League members also pitched in about $10 apiece and purchased two more tilting umbrellas as well.
The league members meet on Wednesdays and Sundays all year.
“At this stage, we need to get out of the house,” said Palmetto's Kim Palmer.
Many of the players said their wives appreciate their husbands being able to get out and socialize.
“You buy six umbrellas, you avoid 20 divorces,” said Alfredo Cola of Sarasota.
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