The Oak Bluffs Firemen’s Civic Association Bowling Tournament attracted more than a hundred bowlers, and legions of their fans, to the Barn, Bowl and Bistro in Oak Bluffs on Sunday.
Firefighter Jimmy Maseda, one of the organizers, said the tournament follows a long tradition of Island fundraisers sponsored by the fire departments. “We wanted to do something different,” he said. “And since the new Bistro is right here in town, our chief, John Rose, contacted them.” Judging from the generally festive atmosphere, the bowling concept was indeed a huge success.
Bowlers registered and competed as five-person teams, many of which participate in the year-round Bistro bowling leagues. To emphasize the historical perspective, and to provide some nostalgia, video of 1970s-era fire department musters held on Waban Park in Oak Bluffs played on multiple TV screens throughout the day. The old footage inspired pleasant memories and warm laughter from many in the crowd.
Mr. Maseda provided further details. “Each bowler pays a participation fee of $50,” he explained. “Everyone receives a gift bag that includes a tournament T shirt and other nice items. We also provide free pizza and chicken at the start. Then they’re on their own for food.”
The dominant vibes in the room had to do with fun and generosity. Matthew Smallwood, part of a spirited team from Edgartown, captured the essence of the day when asked how well his team had bowled. “Who cares? It’s been a blast, and we’ve all donated money to a good cause.” His teammate Michael O’Brien agreed: “When you have all these things together — the bowling, the donations, the great people — you can’t go wrong. It’s an amazing turnout today.”
Another Edgartown team included Jason and Joan Shemit, along with Kevin Maciel, Mike Valenti, and Erik Kelly. For a few in the group, this was the first time they had bowled in two decades. The group benefited from the loyal support of Livia Sampaio, an Edgartown EMT: “I’m just rooting them on. It’s a great event.”
A silent auction featuring everything from three months of trash collection and new tools to Red Sox tickets and biplane rides received a lot of attention. Raffle tickets for bowling shifts were selling like proverbial hotcakes.
Dine to Donate was another way nonbowlers could contribute. When Island residents Karen Coffee and Barbara Dupree stopped by the Bistro for lunch, they did not know they’d be helping a good cause. “It was pure luck,” said Karen. “We’re proud to be here and glad to donate while we dine.” Both took part in the silent auction. “We hope this becomes a yearly event,” added Barbara.
The general hubbub of the scene was punctuated intermittently by the sound of a fireman’s bell that could mean only one thing. Someone had rolled a red- or gold-pin strike. If a rare red or gold pin was in the front of a new pin setup, a strike meant prizes for the bowler. It was just one more element of excitement in this event. The day ended with 40 red- or gold-pin strikes.
When the dust had settled and the last pins were cleared, there were some results to be tabulated. For the record, the top score for the day belonged to the Oak Bluffs team of Willy deBettencourt, Jerry Kroup, Chris Heidt, Don Gregory, and Todd deBettencourt. John O’Donnell and Ron Gilbert won the raffle.
All agreed the most important figure for the day was the approximately $5,000 the event raised. According to Civic Association secretary Tad Mediros, the proceeds will be used to support a number of local causes including student scholarship funds, assisting ill or injured firefighters, and various Island nonprofit groups.
This event was a winner in every way. As the day wound down, the consensus was: See you next year.