C.J. Grad said it didn't take long for her to get hooked on the game of polo.
"I love watching it," the Lemont woman said. "It moves fast, and it's amazing to see how much the players can do while riding their horses. I'm definitely a fan now."
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Polo termsBREECHES: The white pants that are part of every polo player's uniform
CHUKKER: A single period of seven-and-a-half minutes; there are six chukkers in a match
MALLET: The hammer-like tool used to move the ball down the field
PONY: What a polo horse is called
Grad was one of hundreds who visited the Oak Brook Polo Club on Sunday for the first match of the club's 2014 season. Polo Club officials said they hope Sunday will be the starting point of a successful year.
"We have a lot of fun events planned," said James Pehta, head of Oak Brook's Polo Committee. "We encourage people to stop by and see what we're about, especially those who haven't experienced polo before."
Polo has a long history in Oak Brook. It dates back at least as far as 1922, when the Oak Brook Polo Club was formed. In the more than 90 years since, Hollywood stars and figures of royalty from around the world have stopped in Oak Brook to play or watch the game.
For all that history, though, many in the area remain unfamiliar with the sport, Pehta said.
"The No. 1 question we hear is, 'What is polo?' That's why we include a 'Polo 101' guide in our programs. It's such an exciting game. When those horses start moving at top speed, it's thunderous."
As an added incentive for visitors, the polo club has established a number of themes for this summer's matches. Sunday, for example, was Hat Day, when spectators took part in a hat contest after the match. Event sponsor Hoodoo Headwear set up a small hat shop on the grounds for those who didn't bring one from home.
"I got mine right here today," said Oak Brook resident Nancy Gibson, who wore a colorful hat adorned with a large flower. "It was individually designed, which I really like."
Other theme days on the 2014 schedule include Family Day on July 13 and Classic Car Day on Aug. 10. For a full list, go to oakbrookpoloclub.com.
Pehta said he's particularly excited about Family Day, which will include, among other things, children in attendance receiving autographed polo balls.
"Seeing the fun that kids have out here is fantastic," he said.