by ROSIE PIGA PIZZO
Parents who want their kids to stay active—and cool—during the summer can take advantage of two local Kids Bowl Free programs. Children ages 2 to 16 are invited to bowl for free at Bowling & Billiards at Indiana Memorial Union now through August 4. Those 18 and under are welcome to participate at Classic Bowling Lanes, 1421 N. Willis Drive, until August 31. Part of a nationwide program, both facilities allow two free games every day during regular business hours.
“It’s a big program for us,” says Wes Dye, general manager at Classic Bowling Lanes. “One of the reasons I really like it is that it is an incredibly cheap way to spend time doing an activity that doesn’t involve being in front of a screen.”
Dye says he appreciates that the program allows kids exposure to bowling without a huge investment, and sees it as a springboard to other opportunities, “It helps us identify kids who want to take the sport more seriously,” he says. “We love to talk to kids about youth league programs and high school teams.”
As the games center manager of the IMU Back Alley where Billiards & Bowling is located, Ryan Clemons has a personal connection to the Kids Bowl Free program.
“I came from a low-income family and understand how parents struggle to come up with a disposable income to entertain their kids, especially during those long days of summer,” says Clemons. “To be able to provide kids something to do is a way of giving back to the community.”
Clemons says the IMU program has the highest total sign-ups in the state. “Some kids we see every week,” he says. “And when it gets hot and humid out, we see an uptick.”
Shoe rental at both facilities is $3.50. There is a parking fee at the IMU lot, but Clemons says free parking is available for up to three hours if a family spends at least $8 at IMU Bowling & Billiards.
To sign up for either program, visit kidsbowlfree.com/allcenters.