by Sarah Heffner, Mennonite Heritage Center
Dan Lapp, Director of Development for the Mennonite Heritage Center, had a brainstorm several years ago about using a favorite backyard game as a fundraising event. This led to Whack & Roll Croquet Tournaments on the lawn of the Heritage Center each summer for the last four years.
Croquet has been a favorite summer pastime in southeastern Pennsylvania for many years. Accounts of croquet history vary, but it is thought the game began in Ireland and was introduced to England in the mid-nineteenth-century. The game traveled to America, and by 1882 an official National American Croquet Association was formed. Croquet was even played in the 1904 Olympics. For most, however, croquet was played in back yards on Sunday afternoons and it is still a favorite activity at summer get-togethers and family reunions.
This year’s Whack and Roll Tournament was held the first weekend of June. Friday, June 1 was the Senior Tournament for teams from local retirement communities. Teams of two enjoyed a friendly competition with the traveling trophy awarded to Living Branches. The evening Reception on the Lawn featured a dinner where the Reunion Vocal Band, Eastern Mennonite University friends since 1989, performed for an appreciative audience.
Saturday, June 2, players for seventy-two teams representing twenty-two area nonprofit organizations arrived early in the morning to sign in for the elimination tournament. These teams competed for cash prizes for their nonprofit organization on two dozen croquet courts set up on the Heritage Center campus. Daniel Hackman, a Penn View Christian School science fair finalist, brought his croquet inspired science fair project “Croquet From All Angles” to the event.
Three teams of two players compete on each court. A match ends when time runs out or when both members of a team successfully “stake out” (hit the end post with their ball). Each team played two matches in the morning. In the afternoon, twenty-seven teams advanced to the quarter final round and then nine teams moved to the semi final round.
After a long day of croquet, the first place winners were Phil Swartley and Andrew McElhaney who won $5,000 for Spruce Lake Retreat; second place prize of $2,500 was won by Paul and Rina Rampogu for Quakertown Christian School and the team of Donna Floyd and Courtney Floyd won third place of $1,250 for Keystone Opportunity Center. Donations of $500 to each participating nonprofit organizations were sponsored by Bergey’s, Inc. and many local businesses were sponsors of the event.
For more information on the tournament, see the Mennonite Heritage Center website.