Fewer than a dozen bowlers laced up their shoes and lined up their shots at the Lilac Lanes Casino & Bowling Center on Wednesday evening.
While turnout was sharply off from years past, when some 1,000 league bowlers would likely have occupied the lanes off Magnesium Road , those throwing in the sparsely occupied and socially distanced space weren’t complaining.
Lilac Lanes is among the first alleys to reopen in the area after Gov. Jay Inslee’s office approved new COVID-19 guidelines last week.
But it won’t be the last. North Bowl near downtown Spokane, Valley Bowl off Sprague Avenue and Players & Spectators farther east on Sprague have all announced plans to reopen Sept. 8.
Adrienne Sadlo, a league bowler who works two retail jobs, doesn’t normally bowl at Lilac, but she was eager to get back to bowling while she waits for her favorite spot, Players & Spectators, to reopen next week.
She bought a new bowling ball from Lilac’s pro shop anyway to mark the occasion and support the business.
“It’s a very tight-knit community. We’re like family here,” Sadlo said before hitting a spare. “A lot of us are going to be loving the fact that we can be back with our friends.”
Players & Spectators is contacting all its league secretaries in the coming week to schedule play time, said Manager Mike Handelin.
“We wanted to give them first run to fill the house,” Handelin said.
Weekends will be reserved for tournament play, he said. Those wishing to bowl will need to purchase a $5 club pass, as a way to meet the governor’s guidelines restricting bowling to league play and practice. Walk-ins will be allowed, Handelin said, though spur-of-the-moment bowlers may have to wait if lanes are full.
Rolling near Sadlo at Lilac Lanes on Wednesday, Spencer Au, 12, said he has bowled since he was 5 years old and has about a 170 bowling average.
While his mother, a nurse and United States Bowling Congress member, has been concerned about COVID-19 reaching her patients , Au said bowling in a sparsely occupied alley felt like a safe way to have fun.
“Don’t forget the fun places,” Au said. “They get you through hard times.”
Pattison’s North reopening for ‘fitness’ skating
Bowling isn’t the only indoor recreation that has re-emerged from its coronavirus-caused slumber in Spokane.
Pattison’s North, the popular North Side roller rink, reopened in mid-August, said owner Shaun Pattison, under fitness guidelines outlined by Washington state.
That means no arcades and no food service. Masks are required inside the building until skaters roll onto the rink, but they are still encouraged to wear them even then, Pattison said.
“We’ve just kind of had to pivot,” he said.
Skating is by reservation-only, and even then capacity is limited to 25 people.
The center isn’t turning a profit at those prices, Pattison said; the business is charging to keep the lights on. The family-run business has laid off most of its workforce, except for Pattison, his wife and children, he said.
Pattison said several groups already had reserved times, including day cares and a group of regular customers who pooled their resources to secure a 90-minute skate session.
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