Miami Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano plays his home games down in South Beach, but his thoughts are never far from his hometown of Verona.
Verona is so deeply ingrained in Fasano that he returns each year for a golf tournament named after him and run by the Anthony Fasano Foundation.
For the last three years, Fasano has sponsored a bocce competition in Montville in Morris County, because that was the nearest place with the four bocce courts available to host the event.
Working with Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Fasano organized a volunteer campaign to open up four new courts at Essex County’s Verona Park in time for the annual event last Saturday.
DiVincenzo was on hand to welcome Fasano and thank him for his effort, as well as dedicate the new courts in Fasano’s name because of his considerable donation to expand and modernize the facility.
“In Essex County, Anthony has been a star on and off the field,” DiVincenzo said. “When he’s not catching touchdowns, he’s giving back to the community by supporting programs for children with autism and bringing food and necessary supplies to needy families. He’s a role model for the community,” the county executive said.
“We are proud to have partnered with Anthony to replace two existing bocce courts with four new ones, which allowed Anthony to bring his tournament to Verona Park. It’s a great addition that the public will enjoy,” he added.
Earlier this year, Fasano and his representative Pat Capra, approached DiVincenzo with the idea to replace the two existing bocce courts with four new ones. Doubling the number of bocce courts in Verona Park enabled Fasano to relocate his tournament.
Essex County crews performed the construction work to remove the old bocce courts and grade the site and, when construction was completed, installed new park benches, bleacher seating and new landscaping.
A team of volunteer contractors, family members and friends constructed the new bocce courts over the course of about two weeks in early July, completing the project in time for the bocce tournament.
Fasano said, “I want to thank my family, friends, contractors and others who donated their time, hard work and supplies to build the four new bocce courts and Joe D and his team for partnering with us so we could bring my bocce tournament home to Verona Park where it belongs.”
He also added, “In addition to the great sense of pride for my family and friends involved in this project, the bocce courts serve as a symbol for the great things that are possible through community volunteerism. It’s been a wonderful experience working with everyone to get this done, and I plan on returning every summer to host my Bocce Bash right here.”
The 28-year-old NFL star was a three-sports star at Verona High School, lettering in football, track and baseball, pitching a one-hitter as a Hillbilly freshman.
Fasano thanked the DiVincenzo for helping the project move forward and singled out contractors and friends, including: Carl Lombardi Construction, Kaslander Lumber, Yard Work Landscaping, Gary Mercadante, G Lombardi Pavers, Nevolis Contractor, Bo Battista, Pat Capra, Brett D’Alessandro, Coleen D’Alessandro, JR D’Alessandro, Greg D’Alessandro Sr., Greg D’Alessandro Jr., Ray DeCarlo, Jerry DeLuca, Steve DiGeronimo, Ken Dinolfo, Michael Fasano, Phil Ladato, Carl Lombardi, Bobby Lombardi, Richie Lombardi, Rich Mattesky, Ryan Mattesky, Gary Mercadante, Bill Montick, Drew Nevolis, Adrian O’Connell and Mark Panecki.
Proceeds from the Bocce Bash help support holiday food and toy drives for families in need.