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Fun day for amateurs at Babylon pro event

In purple sneakers, purple sweatpants, a purple shirt, purple glass frames and a purple cap covering her shoulder-length gray hair, Joyce Jones spent the afternoon gently rolling a purple ball.

For the sixth straight year, she made her way to Babylon Lanes for the PBA "Fan Day" festivities.

Never mind the drive from Crown Heights, or the alley being crammed with about 400 fans and amateurs burrowing to get a hold of their favorite professional bowlers. And never mind that she's 75.

"Every time they come to town, I'm there," said Jones, who picked up bowling after moving from North Carolina in 1971. A petite 5-0 woman decked out in her favorite color, she rolled a 460 series with her submarine, soft-toss style. "I love the sport and I love meeting these guys."

The event, which featured Pro-Am competitions throughout the day, was as much for the bowlers as it was the fans, Brian Ziesig said.

"It's kind of surreal they're asking for my autograph," said Ziesig, the Levittown native who shot into second place Friday in the Mark Roth Plastic Ball Championship. He'll compete for the title Sunday. "I'm signing autographs while sitting next to the greatest bowler of all time [Walter Ray Williams Jr.] . . . I'd like to restart from Thursday morning and relive these last few days."

Fans trickled in and out for the different Pro-Am sessions, but the turnout more than doubled the usual at the joint, Babylon Lanes worker Tamra Iacone said. "But it's the good kind of hectic."

"It's great that they're able to give back to Long Island with this," AMF manager Cindy Mullery said. "What other sport can you compete against the pros, mess around with them and get instructions?"

When he wasn't posing for pictures with kids, tournament leader Jason Belmonte gave lessons on two-handed bowling. When he started bowling at 18 months old, Belmonte said, the balls were too heavy to lift so he used a two-hand shovel and it stuck.

"I like to chat and mingle," the Australian said. "Plus I'm a tourist, so I'm having fun myself meeting New Yorkers."

Elliott Jones, a Riverhead High School junior with a 226 average, outshot one his heroes. Wearing his Section 11 All-Star shirt, he topped Plainview pro Joseph Costanzo, 822-718, in a friendly afternoon contest.

"It takes my breath," said Michael DeFalco, a member of the Nassau champion Sewanhaka team. "It's my first time here and getting to compete against the guys, even for a little, is something I've dreamt of."

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