The bowling greens and croquet courts of New Bedford's Hazelwood Park have been totally restored to their heyday of the 1920s, when both sports were very popular in the Whaling City.

"The Friends of Hazelwood Park have been working faithfully on this since 2018, and we're proud to announce the official ribbon cutting on Friday, July 22 at 10 a.m.," said Chance Perks, President of the Friends of Hazelwood Park.

This public recreation enterprise has the potential of becoming another landmark in New Bedford.

"There aren't that many lawn bowling and croquet courts in the United States, and we feel people from all over will make New Bedford's new courts a destination," said Lynn Whitney, who had a significant role in the project.

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Ruth Knowles Nicolacci, a former WBSM garden show host, pointed out that lawn bowling and croquet are a historic endowment and part of New Bedford's roots.

Perks said these two games are no longer like the days of yore, however.

"We had to get past a bunch of assumptions regarding how the sports once were, with what the new look and current day standards are, and that was quite a challenge," Perks said.

Whitney agreed, as she dug into how these two sports once brought players to New Bedford from across the country and globally.

"Lawn bowling is quite popular in Great Britain, Africa, Australia and Egypt, and croquet is the national sport of Egypt," she said, and she's hoping that same global connection materializes here again.

Courtesy New Bedford Dept. of Parks, Beaches and Recreation
Courtesy New Bedford Dept. of Parks, Beaches and Recreation

Curiosity and interest in the restoration has piqued, especially with the countless people walking by and asking a lot of questions.

"The best way to get an appreciation for it, and get your questions answered, is to simply show up Friday nights from 6 to 8 p.m.," Perks said. "We'd love to see families and have people sign up to reserve a time slot for access to the greens."

There will be free instruction about how the two games are played following the official ribbon cutting on July 22. The park will provide equipment.

Expenses are shared between the City of New Bedford and private contributions. To help raise funds, the Friends of Hazelwood Park are having a sunset cruise around New Bedford on Thursday, August 4 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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