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New family activity for Portola Valley Town Center: horseshoes

 

A new game that's an old game is coming to Town Center in Portola Valley: horseshoes.

Sometime this spring, a regulation horseshoe pit will be installed in a dirt area near the outdoor basketball court, said Howard Young, the town's public works director.

Construction work is to be done by Town Hall staff at a cost of between $500 and $1,000, Mr. Young said. Jon Myers, a longtime member of the Parks & Recreation Committee, told the Almanac that he will be donating the horseshoes and the stakes.

The Parks & Recreation Committee approved the idea in a unanimous vote in late 2015. The Town Council has also discussed it informally several times as council members brief each other on committee proceedings.

The idea for a horseshoe pit had been tossed around over the years, though no one specifically championed it, Mr. Myers said. "What we are always looking for is to add more family oriented activities," he said. "We'll start small and informal and, if there's interest, we can expand it."

It's apparently not the first community horseshoe pit in Portola Valley. The minutes of a council meeting in February 1985 show a unanimous vote in favor of "the installation of a horseshoe pit at Town Center near the hitchrack at a cost of $50."

The Almanac asked Sue Crane, who was on the council for that vote, for a comment. "It doesn't sound totally foreign to me," she said. After some reflection, she added: "I think we did do it."

Two pounds of metal

Where to store the horseshoes when they're not being used is a work in progress, Mr. Myers said. "My first plan is to actually see if we can work it out (so) they're just lying there," he said. If they get lost or stolen, something else can be worked out, he said.

It takes practice to throw a two-pound awkwardly shaped piece of steel or iron in such a way that when it arrives at the stake, 40 feet away, it is facing in the right direction and on target so as to be captured by the upright stake -- a result known as a ringer.

In general, two players take turns throwing two differently colored horseshoes each. A ringer is three points, a horseshoe that leans on the stake is two points, and one that lands within a horseshoe's length of the stake is one point. If the player who pitches second lands a ringer on top of a ringer pitched by the player who pitched first, the first ringer is voided.

The winner is the first person to reach some odd number of points, usually 21. It can also be played with teams. A sign at the pit could include a smart-phone link to instructions on ways to pitch a horseshoe and rules of the game, Mr. Myers said.

The pit will include designated pitching points for kids, for whom 40 feet is too far, Mr. Myers said.

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