Bowlers back in town
by Matty Bennett
Jul 03, 2014 | 448 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
What started as a few local bowlers from a gay community league more than two decades ago has turned into a great tradition for the LGBT community in Philadelphia and beyond.

As the 26th annual Liberty Belle Invitational gets underway this weekend, Phil Maceno, director of this year’s festivities, couldn’t be more “happy” — just listen to his ringback tone when you call him, which plays Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”

“I’m very excited about being director this year,” Maceno said. “I really enjoy witnessing and experiencing the fun, the joy and the overall good time everyone has as a result of our hard work and dedication.”

This is Maceno’s first year as director, but he’s been a committee member since last year, and involved with the tournament for six years.

The tournament will again be held at Laurel Lanes in Maple Shade, N.J., which has hosted the event for 21 years. This year, the Loews Philadelphia Hotel, 1200 Market St., was chosen as the new host hotel, which offers spectacular views of Philadelphia. On Friday night, competitors can watch the city’s Fourth of July fireworks show from the rooftop.

Maceno said that part of the reason the tournament has been so successful is that it offers something different for the local LGBT community.

“I think gay bowling in general has been fairly successful over the years because it’s an alternative to bar life — it’s an alternative scene for people,” he said.

Bowlers from all over the country will gather for the event. Maceno expects more than 150 people to participate in the tournament — not to mention, to take part in all the other fun activities.

In addition to the bowling tournament, a number of social events have been planned for the weekend. From an ice-cream social at the Igloo to Saturday night at Tavern on Camac to Sunday’s closing party at Tabu, competitors will be celebrating and enjoying themselves all weekend. The festivities will wrap up with a banquet at the Loews on Sunday evening after the tournament.

Maceno said all of the events couldn’t come together without the hard work of everyone involved.

“For 26 years, there has always been a dedicated group of committed individuals who have made sure to plan the tournament successfully.”

Maceno expressed his thanks for the support from local businesses and the LGBT community. Prizes and donations wouldn’t have come together without the team effort from local supporters of the Liberty Belle Invitational, he said.

“I think it’s the dedication that’s made it successful. People experience and understand that dedication, and it makes them want to return every year.”

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