Fortuna bocce courts open Saturday with tournament

Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer

Beacon Correspondent

The city of Fortuna and Fortuna Sunrise Rotary have come together to celebrate the new bocce courts in Fortuna's Rohner Park. They will be holding a tournament on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon with playoff finals from 1:15-2 p.m.

This will be the official opening of the Bocce Courts with a dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. on the courts located next to the horseshoe pits at the park.

The event, "Badges & Bocce", will host an appreciation barbecue from noon to 1 p.m. for all the participants for this tournament honoring public safety personnel.

Fortuna Police Chief Bill Dobberstein said Fortuna Sunrise Rotary is supplying all the food and the trophies.

"There is no fee to come watch the tournament, but anyone can come purchase a meal at the barbecue where those funds will help with improvements and eventually maybe funding more courts," he said.

Dobberstein said the tournament is a kickoff for the courts, and that there are hopes to continue this annual tournament with more participation from emergency response and public safety personnel throughout Humboldt County.

"This year's tournament is more focused on the Eel River Valley, but reflects hospitals, fire departments, police departments, and ambulance," he said.

The tournament and barbecue are open to the public in exchange for a small fee to help raise the necessary funds to purchase new scoreboards and ball holders for the new courts.

In 1993, Franklin B. Rohner penned a letter to the city of Fortuna.

According to the city's parks and recreation department, the Rohner family donated, or sold at a minimal cost, the entire 55-acre park to the city. In 1907, the first parcel of 20-acres was purchased for $1,000 with an additional 19.5-acres purchased in 1921 for $600 an acre or $11,700. In 1938, 13.5 acres were donated with the final 2 acres being donated in 1940.

As the park expanded, it was developed over time. The initial work was planting maple, locust and pine trees. Additionally the city constructed picnic tables for the community's use.

In 1991, local baseball enthusiasts added a diamond field. The Fireman's Association constructed the pavilion, also known as the skating rink, in 1933. In 1938, additional landscaping, rodeo grounds, a children's play area, and field lights were added to the park.

Although not used often if at all anymore, the Fireman's Association constructed the outdoor fireplace in the 1940s. In 1973 the railroad depot, fondly known as the Depot Museum, was relocated.

For over 70 years, Rohner Park was the only park in Fortuna. According to the city's Parks and Recreation Department, many individuals have approached the city over the years advocating for the construction of the bocce courts. It was not until Bob and Jennie Canevari donated a large sum of money toward the courts that they came to be a reality.

Max Goble in 2007 also made a donation to the City of Fortuna's Parks and Rec Department with the intention of the funds to be used for recreation that would benefit the public.

The courts were completed in 2012. With three courts now open to the public there will be tournaments and the public can rent out bocce ball sets from the Parks and Rec Department for a small fee.

Chief Dobberstein expected fun events for all ages on Saturday.

"There will be police cars, the stop drop & roll trailer, tournament, barbecue, and a dedication of the court to the city of Fortuna," he said. "Everyone is encouraged to come on down and cheer on your favorite public safety personnel."