On Friday Mrs. Ephemera had the day off so we skiddaddled over to St. Pete to catch the final matches of the World Championships of shuffleboard. I had watched the feverish preparations via Facebook by Christine Page and other members of the St. Pete Club as they readied the facility for this international event. I saw the teams at the opening ceremonies with flags and uniforms and it reminded me of when Orlando hosted both World Cup and Olympic soccer in the 1990s. I also enjoyed posts by Jonathan and Ashley of the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Brooklyn. Playing shuffleboard in Florida in their youth, this pair of New Yorkers got the idea to start a shuffleboard club in Brooklyn after being inspired by a visit to the St. Pete Shuffle.
So I was psyched by the end of the week and a bit annoyed when I couldn't find a place to park at the club because of the large crowd on hand. The grandstands were packed but Mrs. Ephemera and I got seats near the top behind the ladies competing for the women's championship. The crowd was obviously shuffle-knowledgeable as they groaned at near misses and applauded at precisely-exectued shots. It was near perfect weather as the eight competitors dueled it out on the slick St. Pete courts. I was amazed at how little effort it appeared to take to make the disks travel from one end to the other. Properly-prepared courts make the game require much more finesse. Mrs. Ephemera liked the quick pace of play as the players at this level didn't waste any time agonizing over strategy – they knew exactly where they should send the puck on every turn.
At the end of the match good sportsmanship was demonstrated, and the winners received applause from an appreciative crowd. Later that evening there was an award banquet for the tournament's participants across the street at the Coliseum, formerly a venue for big band dances and other early 20th century recreational past times.
I was thrilled to meet the folks from Brooklyn who had contacted me last year when they launched what I thought then was a long-shot at ever getting off the ground. But the club opens in early December and hopefully Mrs. E and I can get up to New York and see if those Yankees can really shuffle.
There was fantastic Friday Night Shuffle after the tournament with shuffleboard cake, an art show and live music. The place was jam packed with families, hipsters, and even some of the international competitors decked out in their fancy clothes from the banquet. The energy level at the St. Pete Shuffle is always amazing, and on that night the place radiated joy and excitement. Kudos to the folks who made it happen.
Our efforts to get shuffleboard re-booted for a new generation in Central Florida are going well. The Sanford Shuffle was also held Friday night and they had a good turnout. The second Orlando Shuffle is this Saturday and I expect a good crowd. And the active club in nearby St. Cloud is also trying to welcome new players to their facility. This game that seemed to be fading away seems to have a new life thanks to committed people in St. Pete, New York and Central Florida. Come out and shuffle with us, won't you?
|Packed grandstands, just like the old days|
|This calls for a ruling by the judge!|
Friday Night Shuffle
|Shuffleboard cake in honor of the championship|
Shuffleboard in Central Florida
|Fourth Friday of the month|
|First Saturday of the month|