Today was the big day for bowlers and bowling alley owners across New York State. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that bowling centers could reopen starting Monday morning.
At Ripic’s Carousel lanes in Binghamton, owner Beckie Ripic says the news Friday brought with it relief after more than five months of being shut down.
“It was very overwhelming when we got the news on Friday I bawled like a baby,” she said.
Ripic says the road to reopening has been a long one. The news comes one week after Ripic joined local leaders and bowling alley owners in Waverly to rally the state to reopen, now it’s back to business.
“We had a crew in here this weekend doing all sorts of cleaning to get ready for it and it’s just so good to hear the noise of the pins crashing behind us,” she said.
The closure due to the virus came just months after Ripic and her husband purchased the old Laurel Bowl on Laurel Ave and reopened under the new name.
“We were on the verge of being shut down for as many months as we had been in operation,” she said. “Last night when we left after cleaning we said ‘I wonder when our last sale was last year?’ It’s almost to the day August 22 was our first sale. Today is the 17th, it’s like a brand new beginning for us.”
As a member of the Board of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America, Ripic played a role in swaying the state to give bowling alleys a chance.
“We continued to send letters to the governor and local legislative branches and lobbyists, we worked and pushed,” she said.
Now the time has come to prove that bowling can be done safely. The facility has been fitted with new air filters and hand sanitizing stations. Bowlers can only use every other lane in order to maintain social distancing. 6 people can use a single lane, and no more than 8 people can use 2 lanes right next to each other.
While Ripic says her facility was never in danger of closing for financial reasons, she couldn’t be happier to welcome back her bowling family, and anyone who wants to come for a game or two.
“Come on down, we have s lot of air hugs, we’ve missed everybody in the last five months, we just want people to get back out on the lanes.”