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Photos: Italianfest Kicks Off with Mayors' Bocce Ball Tournament

The City of Newport proved to be inhospitable on the Bocce Ball court again, running away with the Italianfest Mayors' Bocce Ball Tournament title for the second year in a row. 

Newport Mayor Jerry Peluso was teamed with City Commissioner Thomas Guidugli, and beat Bellevue Mayor Ed Riehl and City Administrator Keith Spoelker in the finals for the second straight year.

The tournament, held annually at Pompilio's in Newport, featured some tight match-ups.

Cold Spring and Ludlow were both bounced early by Bellevue and Ft. Mitchell, respectively, while Covington knocked off Dayton in the first round.

Newport was actually defeated by Wilder in the first round, but because it was not a true Wilder team - no one from Wilder showed up so Covington City Solicitor Frank Warnock and Campbell County Constable Jim Peluso wore the Wilder banner - the host city was given the right to advance.

The semifinals featured two extraordinarily close games.

In a game that plays only to 12, Covington - represented by Mayor Joe Meyer and a partner - ran out to an 11 to 3 lead and had Bellevue on the ropes. But Riehl and Spoelker made a shocking comeback, completed by a 4-point roll by Mayor Riehl that gave Bellevue the 12-11 victory.

Newport also played from behind and came back to beat Ft. Mitchell - represented by Fire Chief Gary Auffart and public works director Matt Stegman - 12 to 10.

The championship game was a nail-biter, and was knotted up at 9 apiece late, but Peluso and Guidugli proved to be too much for Spoelker and Riehl, and Newport claimed the title again.

This is the third straight year that Bellevue and Newport played in the finals, with Bellevue winning the title three years ago.

"We love having the mayors and officials of local communities coming down to compete and have some fun as we kick off one of region's best festivals of the entire summer," said Mayor Peluso. "Of course, Newport wants to win! But it's all in good fun."

Italianfest features authentic Italian and other varieties and styles of food as well as live Italian music performed by entertainers from around the nation and from “the old country”, a Golf Outing, family-friendly activities, games and rides and a Family Photo Booth showcasing the history of Italian families that settled in Newport generations ago.

Italianfest opens Thursday at 5 p.m. and runs all weekend long on Riverboat Row. For more information, click here.

-Michael Monks, editor & publisher

Slideshow Images & Captions: 
Ludlow Mayor Ken Wynn and Ft. Mitchell Fire Chief Gary Auffart