By Phil SussmanMarch 5, 2009
FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Bowling has returned to Fort Lewis, boasting flat-panel TVs, a full snack bar, video arcade, sound system and laser light show.
Braving a wet winter afternoon, hundreds attended the grand opening of Fort Lewis' Bowl Arena Lanes Saturday, ready to bowl.
Garrison commander Col. Cynthia Murphy cut a ceremonial ribbon with assistance from Julius Walker, a military retiree and local United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame inductee.
"It's finally opening day and we're very excited to be able to provide this to you," said Murphy before cutting the ribbon. "This is a reflection of the Army's commitment to our Soldiers and to our families, in that you make a difference every single day. This is just a small way that the Army covenant would like to say thank you very much."
After the ceremony, the staff assigned lanes and the bowling began. Walker bowled the first official frame in the newly renovated 40-lane arena.
The thunderous applause from those in attendance was quickly drowned out by the sound of pins thrashing about each lane.
Avid bowler, Pfc. Matthew Kiepert of the 17th Fires Brigade, was on hand to roll one of the first games of the day. He was one of many Soldiers excited about the return of bowling to Fort Lewis.
"I'm just coming out of (advanced individual training at Fort Gordon) where I bowled three to four times a week," said Kiepert. "Now I have something else to do after work instead of just going home."
The appeal of two free games and complimentary shoe rental also brought several families to the grand opening.
"It means a lot just having time with the family," said Spc. Willie Davis of the 62nd Medical Brigade, who brought his wife and four children. "(The arena is) a very good fit."
Many grand-opening attendees were already planning their next trip to the bowling alley before they knocked down their first pins.
"We'll definitely come back to spend some more family time here," said Spc. Brandon Scott, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, in attendance with his wife and stepson.
For serious bowlers and casual fun-seekers alike, Fort Lewis residents were happy about the new bowling arena.
"It's finally open again," said Scott, "and we're excited to have one more thing to do on post."
Phil Sussman is a photojournalist with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.