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Let the Good Times Roll

Score a strike with a classic bowling themed party

Having a blast at your child's next party without breaking the bank shouldn't be as tricky as picking up a seven-ten split. Your local bowling alley is a cost-friendly spot for a birthday shebang offering a fun, team-oriented time. And, even if your young guests aren't familiar with the game, special kid accommodations will have them rolling in no time.

Family atmosphere

"There's a buzz in the air, and people seem to be intrigued by bowling or just want to bowl," says Jim Lahood, owner of Lakeshore Lanes in St. Clair Shores. "Before, if you wanted to bowl, you had to be in a league, but there's been a shift. There's a lot more interest in bowling as a recreational activity." Lakeshore is a popular kids' party destination, as the entire facility is smoke- and alcohol-free.

The economical aspect is what Lahood says also keeps families interested in bowling parties for their kids. Plus, parents can get involved in the party. "You can leave a clean house and come back to a clean house," he said. "Bowling is a special treat."

Jazz it up

Make your child's bowling party a throwback to the days when you were young by having the kiddies don retro bowling shirts. Opt for the uber-bright yellow, blue or pink hues, and encourage high ponytails or even mullet wigs.

Add fun to spare by offering prizes for the kids with the top and bottom scores, and preparing themed foods like candy apples (reminiscent of bowling balls) or a pin-shaped cake.

Many alleys are happy to handle the entertainment. Maplewood Lanes in Saline provides party packages including one game of bowling, shoe rental, pizza, pop, a personalized cake and ice cream. It also offers a magic and balloon show, during which the birthday child actually gets to perform magic tricks for friends and family.

Glow-in-the-dark bowling is gaining popularity in the kid party scene, too. Novi Bowl, which has locations in Novi and Farmington Hills, offers a neon-fun atmosphere where the pins and other items glow as music is piped-in overhead.

At these popular parties, kids can also opt for lightweight equipment to increase their chances of knocking down pins. "We offer a fun experience. The kids enjoy it because they don't throw gutter balls," says part-owner Jerry Harris.

Fun ‘spins’

Community Bowling Centers, based in Livonia with bowling centers throughout metro area, boast various twists on bowling. One is "Character Bowl," where kids roll with friends like Santa, the Easter Bunny or critters reminiscent of TV favorites SpongeBob SquarePants and Barney.

Or, for older kids, try an "All Night Party" featuring an entire after-hours blowout of bowling, rocking tunes, dancing, video games and more. The party starts at around 10 or 11 p.m. and wraps up by 6 or 7 a.m.

The guest of honor gets his or her name on a keepsake bowling pin in one of Brighton Bowl's birthday packages – plus, of course, all the staples, from free decorations to grub to a 30-minute game for partygoers. It's also smoke-free during open bowl hours and has fully automated bumpers on all 24 of its lanes.

Most bowling venues allow you to bring your own cake; however, some have special requirements regarding outside food. Be sure to check with the alley of your choice when you book your party.

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