Striking success: St. Charles Bowl marks 60th anniversary

  • The St. Charles Bowl sign was designated as a historic sign by the St. Charles Historic Commission in 2014.

      The St. Charles Bowl sign was designated as a historic sign by the St. Charles Historic Commission in 2014. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

Posted4/16/2021 6:00 AM

By opening in 1961, St. Charles Bowl became part of a booming decade for the recreational sport. After all, once automatic pinsetters were all the rage in the 1950s and a game moved at a quicker pace and alleys could add more lanes, the sport took off.

Bowling has had its popularity ebbs and flows in the decades since, but it seemed to be enjoying a bit of a surge before the pandemic.


When I first began working and living in the Tri-Cities area more than 40 years ago, St. Charles Bowl was an entertainment mecca in town.

It seemed as if everyone was on a bowling team or in a league of some sort -- and they couldn't wait for the newspaper to come out with the league standings and names of the top bowlers.

Families enjoy some spring break fun at the St. Charles Bowl. The bowling alley has survived the pandemic and is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
  Families enjoy some spring break fun at the St. Charles Bowl. The bowling alley has survived the pandemic and is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. - Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

A friend even asked me if I wanted to be on a team, but my free time in the evenings was quite limited as sports editor of the newspaper. So I had to beg off. Plus, the bowling season seemed to be a year-round affair -- but so much fun.

Still, to this day, St. Charles Bowl is recognized in the west suburbs as one with some of the most loyal league bowlers.

St. Charles Bowl will celebrate its 60th anniversary next month -- and it continues to push safety protocols and encourage people to enjoy the great indoors of a local bowling alley.

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"We've been practicing social distancing to the best of our ability," said Tim Miedema, co-manager at the St. Charles Bowl since 2012, in working with head manager Toni McGarry, who has been at the alley for the past 13 years.

"We skip one lane between groups to keep people apart," Miedema said. "Anyone entering the bowling alley has to have a mask on, as it is required to get into the building, but can take them off when bowling or eating or drinking."

Each hour, alley employees spray clean the balls, including the finger holes, and clean all surfaces in the alley regularly.

The St. Charles Bowl has plenty to offer including billiards, birthday events, and food.
  The St. Charles Bowl has plenty to offer including billiards, birthday events, and food. - Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

For school kids and their parents who stayed local during spring break, the St. Charles Bowl was an option for a day of fun. The alley was offering special deals for open bowling while school was out.


Plus, it was pushing registration for summer programs and leagues. Bowling lane operators know that the sport is growing in popularity at the high school levels as more schools are adding both boys and girls teams, and alley owners want to tap into that potential pool of customers.

The alley wasn't exploding with kids bowling during spring break, but some takers were looking to do something other than virtual school classes or keeping busy at home.

"We are doing OK at the alley overall," Miedema said. "We are at about 60 percent of what we have done in the past, which is to be expected when using half of the lanes most of the time."

"We'll get business back to what we were at before (the pandemic)," Miedema added.

As for the 60th anniversary, head manager McGarry said some special events will take place at the alley, but she hasn't set anything into a schedule yet. What coronavirus decides to do in the next few weeks will likely play a role in planning.

While the bowling alley has been at its 2520 W. Main St. location all of these years, it eventually expanded to 24 lanes, had a major makeover or two both inside and outside, and added all sorts of electronic features. "We had to keep it up-to-date," McGarry said.

Flag Day fundraiser

For the past five years, the Fox Valley Patriotic Organization has held events to educate people about the history of the American Flag, particularly the role of Batavia's Dr. Bernard Cigrand, the "Father of Flag Day."

The organization is raising money to build a Flag Day Monument in downtown Batavia -- and it has set 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday, April 25 at Top Golf in Naperville as an event to do just that.

Organizers encourage participants not to be scared off if they are not golfers, saying they can have fun with the games, raffle, and food regardless. You don't even have to bring golf clubs.

It costs $75 for a single and $400 to secure a bay for six players.

Those interested can register at the website.

A festival comeback

Are things back to normal as more of us get vaccinated against COVID-19? Well, not really.

And hearing that Geneva's Swedish Days summer festival will be held in a scaled-down version June 24-27 reminds us things are better but not quite back to where we want to be.

It's a start, and the Geneva Chamber of Commerce is coming up with some fun and interesting things to do.

Still, the decision has been made to hold off on the huge parade that closes the festival. That's a smart move, considering that it calls for so many people to interact with each other.

Similarly, the festival's arts and crafts show and Grandquist Music Festival have been canceled again this year.

Otherwise, some things already set include a carryout format for the Geneva Settler's Coffee at the Geneva Golf Club on June 24 and a scaled-back Kids' Day on June 25, without the Kids' Day parade.

A new event called the Chocolate Crawl will be held on June 27, so we'll be watching for details on that one since it has that magic word "chocolate" as part of it.

In addition, organizers are plotting the live music portion of the festival and information about that should be coming soon.

Students help shops

Students and staff from the Batavia High School Building Trades classes continue to pitch in on building the needed structures for the Batavia Boardwalk Shops.

Thirty-five building trades students recently built two new shops for the popular shopping strip at 114 E. Wilson St.

It's an excellent example of how so many people can get involved in something that really helps the community.

The shops' concept, in which a small business starts on the boardwalk with hopes to eventually expand into a downtown retail space, has the Batavia MainStreet organization's fingerprints all over it.

But it takes a lot of other hands, especially from young people adept at building things, for a nonprofit economic development project to click.

The Boardwalk Shops will open to the public on Wednesday, May 28. If you haven't checked it out, put it on your summer to-do list.

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