By JOE MASSIE
For The Daily News
IRON MOUNTAIN - Enough kudos cannot be said about Ray Mariucci and the effort and time he spent building bocce ball courts, maintaining them and contacting people to try and play the game.
Jo (IN RED) and Shelly Ellison show the front and back of the medals to be awarded Saturday at the 15th annual Michigan Open state bocce tournament at City Park’s Ray Mariucci Bocce Complex. One side of the medal shows a picture of the late Ray Mariucci, Dickinson Area Bocce Association founder; the other with the DABA insignia. Shelly has been organizing volunteers and directing court improvement projects at the City Park courts.
It all started in 1992 when he got permission from Iron Mountain City Council to use City Park and a storage building. He had seven courts constructed and the formation of Dickinson Area Bocce Association (known as DABA).
His idea had taken off.
A governing committee was organized and he was named president. Henry "Chi Chi" Pozza was named treasurer.
It can be said that no other group used the park more than bocce ball players. It was used four days a week with 40 to 50 players playing every day.
The committee around 2001 had the courts named after Ray Mariucci. A large sign was installed in his honor.
Ray and the committee from the start had rules like no smoking, no drinking and no foul language. It was strictly to be a family affair age 5-95.
Ray always said "you don't have to be Italian" to play this game. Over the 21 years, DABA has sent teams to Chicago, Detroit and Las Vegas to play in national tournaments.
Bocce ball at City Park will never be the same without Ray Mariucci around. He would really be proud to know the DABA committee gladly took on the 2013 state tournament and will host in his honor.
I can say he was an organizer and leader, one of the best I have known. Good luck DABA teams in the state tournament.
The 15th annual Michigan Open state bocce tournament takes place at City Park Saturday.
(Joe Massie is a veteran bocce player from the Dickinson Area Bocce Association)