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Denver Croquet Club makes noise in Wash Park

A few nights a week, the Denver Croquet Club invites folks of all ages to come find their "croquet zen" on a small patch of grass in Washington Park. No starched white shirts and pants here--just people who want to have fun.
Credit: Herbst, Anne

DENVER—Picture the game of croquet and your mind might wander to the English countryside, filled with fancy people wearing starched, white shirts. Maybe they are even sipping a nice lemonade.

The Denver Croquet Club is not that vision of exclusivity.

“You can play croquet on private lawns in the Hamptons, you can play croquet in a backyard in Denver, and everything in between,” said James Creasey, president of the Denver Croquet Club. “I thought it was going to be all white shorts and a little exclusive, but everybody was so friendly and I’ve been playing ever since.”

The club meets a few times a week on a small, manicured lawn in Denver’s Washington Park. As runners and bikers cruise by, 40 to 50 players tap croquet balls through hoops—or wickets as they are called in the United States. On Sunday and Monday, the group plays golf croquet, where teams battle to be the first to seven points.

“The first ball through the hoop owns the point, and there’s only one point per hoop,” Creasey said “Once that point is scored, everyone moves onto the next one. This is the George Bush version of croquet—no one gets left behind.”

The group has been playing on the lawn in Washington Park since 1985. They promote an inclusive environment and are willing to teach anyone to play.

“I’ve known people who are playing into their 90s, you know, as long as you’re upright,” said Judy McKeon, a longtime member of the club. “If I’m upright in my 90s, I suspect I’ll be playing it.”

The club welcomes everyone, but they also have players who have excelled at the sport. Daniel Pailas has been playing seriously for less than a decade and is ranked 20th in the United States.

“I went down to West Palm Beach for five months living in a cheap motel, and I trained six to nine hours a day, seven days a week including Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Pailas said. “I was literally obsessed.”

He said he loves the sport for its strategy, and also for the people he meets.

“Everyone who plays croquet is a great person,” Pailas said. “There’s so much to be thankful for, to be able to come out here and play croquet in Denver.”

To learn more about the Denver Croquet Club and when they play and have events, go to their website at this link.

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