John Ewert threw up his hands after a roll that didn't quite hit the mark.

Passersby and even puzzled shoppers at a nearby Jewel sometimes wander over to a little park on Lake Street in River Forest to inspect a group of participants playing an uncommon game and having an uncommonly good time doing it.

On two skinny turf courts, the game of bocce ball begins with the toss of a little yellow ball and bowlers in teams take aim at it by rolling green or red balls as close as they can.

Usually the curious first notice the laughter and competitive shouts. Some say the hook is that bocce is a very social sport.

“We’ve played in mittens and coats,” said Cheryl Cargie, responsible for starting league play two years ago through the River Forest Park District. “We’re here on Christmas day as long as it’s not snowing.”

There are nine teams of four plus a long list of subs. On a recent Tuesday night, bowlers ranged in age from 12 to 90.

“You don’t need to be real athletic,” said Sue Stopka. “You just need a steady hand.”

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