Vancouver's Varsity Ridge bowls its last frame

Bowlers have until June 27 to slide their feet into two-toned shoes and hit the lanes for five-pin bowling at Varsity Ridge Bowl. The 63-year-old alley at West 15th Avenue and Arbutus Street is closing its doors to make way for a new condo complex.

Co-owner of Varsity Ridge, Ken Hayden, says 10 people want the alleys carpet that features green bowling balls as planets that glow under black lights.

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If you can get it, you can have it, he told its admirers. But its glued down.

Other equipment and furnishings have been sold. For an ugly situation we got away pretty good, Hayden said.

The alleys automatic scoring machines will go to the Commodore Lanes on Granville Street downtown. That alley will hire two of Haydens staff. It is also taking on the Golden Age leagues and Hayden and his wife and business partner Judy will take care of those bowlers there as volunteers. Ive been in the business since 1976. I have four generations of families. I have many, many, many friends and its just sad to see everybody go their separate ways after so many years, 69-year-old Hayden said about why theyll volunteer.

Varsity Ridge hummed Tuesday afternoon. Children from a Montessori school in Marpole rolled balls beneath disco lights toward glowing pins on the eight lanes in the back and seniors dominated the eight lanes in the main room. Were all very sad, said 91-year-old Catherine Penny whos bowled at Varsity Ridge for at least 20 years. [Varsity Ridge] means a lot to a lot of people, she said. My son came here as a kid and hes in his 50s now. He used to bowl up a storm here.

Both Penny and her friend Nancy Bednard, 86, plan to bowl on Granville Street, with the knowledge that the Haydens will be there.

Special Olympics bowlers will transfer to Grandview Lanes on Commercial Drive, as will the youth leagues.

A lot of parents dont want their kids to go downtown, Hayden said.

Hes clear about how he feels about closing. Oh! Its a terrible feeling, actually, he said. Its just so sad. Not only for myself but for the community, the neighbourhood. You see these kids come in, they bowl and they have fun and they can do the glow-in-the dark. Twelve thousand school kids come here every year and that will never happen again, another 15,000 for birthday parties come here every year, so thatll never happening again.

A McDonalds and the Ridge Garden Restaurant are the only other two remaining businesses. The Ridge Theatre closed in February. The Chinese restaurant will close Aug. 31 and relocate to Macdonald Street at West 24th Avenue.

Varsity Ridge will host an open house for past and present bowlers June 26 from 7 to 9 p.m. and a Golden Age wrap-up will happen the following afternoon.

crossi@vancourier.com

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