City of Newburgh residents joined the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands and the Office of the Orange County Historian for an afternoon of traditional fun and recreation with croquet in Downing Park.
The free and open event on Saturday, September 17, featured 43 community members who participated and played in a tournament and allowed those gathered to enjoy a game that may have once been a part of recreational life in the city. The winners of the tournament was the team “the Recluse,” which was made up of Pat and Mike Quiana.
Croquet is an outdoor game that involves balls made of plastic or wood that are hit with a mallet through hoops on the ground to score points. There are several variations of the game recognized and played in different parts of the world.
Roy Spells of the Historical Society of Newburgh Bay and the Highlands has been a member of the Historical Society for the past two decades and served as co-chair for Croquet in the Park along with Virginia McCurdy.
According to Spells, this tournament had taken a hiatus mainly due to the COVID pandemic but now with lesser restrictions, the tournament returned for an afternoon of fun.
Croquet equipment and official rules were provided by the Historical Society to those who attended the event. Croquet instructors assisted those who have never played the game or needed to remember how to play. Members of the public also dressed up in traditional costumes that would have been worn during the time period when playing the game of croquet.
Briefly speaking with Spells, he looks to expand the outreach and inclusion of the event in the park for next year’s event in hopes of bringing many other members of the community together.
“We [the Historical Society] want to make sure that the word gets out across the community, not only for those families that have played it for a long time, but we have so many different cultures, and ethnic groups that have come to Newburgh, and we want to let them know, what was done on the Hudson River, up and down many years ago, and how they too can be a part of community living,” Spells said.
Kathy Parisi, President of the Downing Park Planning Committee, briefly shared some reflections on the event held in the park. “If you don’t know how to play the game, you know, they have a course for beginners, they have the rules,” Parisi said. “Just thrilled to see people using the park in a way that it may have been used at the turn of the century. They [Historical Society] had a great turnout. Everybody was enthusiastic.”