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Pétanque on the NY Streets

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Will Pétanque become a new NYC street game?
During the past decade downtown Brooklyn's Smith Street has become home to one of the City's more notable French quarters. This summer, some of the restaurant and shop owners decided that it was time for this emerging ethnic enclave to officially celebrate its traditions. With a little help from their friends at the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation, festival organizers arranged to block off the street, cart in a load of sand and celebrate this Bastille Day the way it should be; with fun, festivities and games. Pétanque a uniquely French "street game" was the pièce de résistance.

In Pétanque, players attempt to throw a heavy ball so it arrives closer to the target smaller ball than one's opponent. Its basic rules are similar to Italian Bocci and it is usually played on a sandy field, not a commonplace feature in a downtown Brooklyn neighborhood, hence the need for the front-end loader and lots of shovels.

Old time players mustered up some decent competitions while also showing the novices how the game should be played. And as the photos show, although the adults were concentrating on the competitions, for the younger children a piece of heavy machinery, bunch of shovels and a street covered with sand offers plenty of its own excitement.

Pétanque has an enthusiastic and growing following here in the US. For more information see Pétanque USA. For a further explanation of the rules of Pétanque, visit and finally, to contact the people who put together the Bastille Day celebration in South Brooklyn, e-mail

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