One of the oldest lawn bowling clubs around has rolled out the grassy green carpet to a whole new generation of participants looking to bowl, bond and banter their Wednesday nights away together, all for a good cause.
Lawn Summer Nights (LSN) Ottawa has returned to the Elmdale Lawn Bowling Club for its sixth year to raise at least $85,000 over the next month for research into cystic fibrosis, a genetic, chronic disease that mainly affects the lungs. Last year, the local fundraiser managed to bring in more than $86,000.
The Ottawa benefit is organized by a committee under the leadership of Alik Angaladian, who has gone and set the bar even higher: she wants to raise $100,000 in honour of the fundraiser’s 10-year national anniversary. LSN got its start in Vancouver in 2009 and has spread to cities from coast to coast.
“We want to hit it out of the park,” Angaladian, a government relations consultant, told the crowd of some 250 millennials gathered at Wednesday’s season launch at the club, located in a quiet residential neighbourhood near Hintonburg.
The teams, some of which arrived in wacky costumes, enjoyed a whimsical summer night. They rolled balls across the grass, as close as possible to a smaller white ball, called a jack. Mellow sounds of jazz music filled the air while a stunning sunset served as the players' picturesque backdrop.
There were also members of the lawn bowling club present to teach the players the technique, as well as the rules of the game.
Who knew lawn bowling would become so popular again? While some might dismiss it as a seniors' activity, right up there with shuffleboard and horseshoes, registration for this year’s LSN season sold out faster than you can crack open a cold one.
Lawn Summer Nights Ottawa now has a waitlist of people wanting to play.
“People know they’re going to come and have fun and contribute to a good cause,” said Angaladian, who credits the uniqueness of the social sport to building a strong LSN following in Ottawa. “It’s part of discovering something new.”
Cystic Fibrosis ambassador Max Mcguire, who’s also a film director and producer, kicked off the event with the ringing of the bell. He lives with the illness, which was once considered a fatal disease of childhood. Today, because of advances in treatment and care, many people with CF are living into their 30s, 40s, and beyond.
“When we were born, it was 13 — that was the age that parents were told we were going to live to,” said McGuire, 37, of Ottawa.
He participates in LSN each year and has consistently been the top fundraiser. It looks, however, as though the Bowlers Gonna Bowl team could become the new champs this year.
McGuire presented a surprise volunteer award to Angaladian, whom he described as “an absolute powerhouse.” She’s helped to grow the LSN benefit in Ottawa into one of the most successful among the participating Canadian cities.
LSN Ottawa continues on July 18, 25 and August 1. There are still spots available for the pop-up night on Saturday, July 28th. As well, the public can buy $20 tickets to come out and watch the event on remaining nights.