Columbus Day -- long under fire from American Indians -- took another hit this year when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cut it from the list of paid state holidays.
That doesn't seem to faze the venerable members of Sacramento's Piemonte Reale Benevolent Society, even though the oldest Italian American club in the West shares credit for helping elevate the day to a national holiday.
"It doesn't make much difference to me, because I'm retired," said 93-year-old Forrest Viglione, a member of the society, who rules the East Portal Park bocce courts every Thursday.
"I've got every day a holiday," Viglione said, asking, "Columbus Day is on what day?"
The answer: today.
In 1909, the club, then 168 members strong, petitioned President Theodore Roosevelt to declare Oct. 12 Columbus Day in honor of the day Christopher Columbus' expedition neared North America. It would be years before that effort paid off.
Last Thursday night, Viglione and his fellow bocce players seemed relatively unconcerned about the political tempest brewing over the holiday. In defiance of the governor's decision to save $26 million by cutting Columbus Day and Lincoln's Birthday the Service Employees International Union is urging workers to take today off.
Viglione, the star of the Capital Boys bocce team, was much more focused on taking down Silvio's Sharpshooters, the father-son team of Silvio and Anthony Suine, with his knack for accurately placing the softball-sized balls.
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