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Amy Neighborgall-Fisher, owner of the family business Colonial Lanes Bowling Alley, that is celebrating 50 years this month.

HUNTINGTON -- Amy Neighborgall-Fisher has no worries when she brings her almost 3-year-old son to her family business, Colonial Lanes Bowling Center.

"I can see his little blond head being passed from concourse to concourse," she said. And when he's out there with the league bowlers, she knows he's in good hands.

"That's one thing about owning a family business -- your customers are your friends," she said. "You see the same people every week. You know them, and they know you."

She loves that. She loves that bowling is a reason for friends to get together weekly. She loves that her business gives families an affordable way to have a good time together, and that it doesn't matter how athletic you are to get in the game. One of her favorite sayings is, "There are no bench-warmers in bowling."

Colonial Lanes has always been a place to bring the community together, Neighborgall-Fisher said, and this month, it's celebrating 50 years.

Charlie Neighborgall opened the bowling alley in 1959. It was then taken over by his son, Robert, who put it in his daughter's hands about five years ago.

Rebels and Redcoats and the Colonial Grill was a hot-spot restaurant adjacent to the bowling center from 1962 until it closed in 2004. It's now open as a bar.

"The restaurant had run its course -- it was a special occasion restaurant," Neighborgall-Fisher said. "The bar has done really well. Our clientele is really nice. We never have problems -- great customers in there."

The 33-year-old started working at Colonial Lanes at age 17. Her dad wanted to make sure she had worked in every aspect of the business. So, with the exception of maintenance, she's done it all -- working the counter, accounting, the grill, the restaurant.

Now the only thing she doesn't get to do that often is bowl. She's too busy.

For Manager Judy Black, working at Colonial Lanes for the past 10 years has been a wonderful way to meet people and make new friends.

"I worked in a factory for 30 years," Black said. "I came here pretty shy and bashful, and this really pulled me out of it. People that you see every week are like family, and the people I work for are unbelievable. They are a very special family."

Gloria Cathell, who bowls with the Senior League at Colonial Lanes is a board member on the Huntington United States Bowling Congress, has been bowling at the alley since the mid-1960s.

"I bowl there three times a week. I like the atmosphere," she said. "The people are friendly and nice and helpful."

She also likes the wood lanes.

Neighborgall-Fisher said she's tried to keep many things the same at her family's bowling center. Despite the trend of modern, glow-in-the-dark bowling alleys, Colonial Lanes will not be changing its look on her charge. It still has the ornate carpet and the brass chandeliers. It still has the same Brunswick Gold Crown ball returns.

"I will never change it. This is how my grandfather wanted it, this is how my father wanted it, and that's how it's going to stay," she said.

It will see some upgrades, though, including a brand new scoring system with LCD flat screens. The new system will begin installation Aug. 17 and will also be in the Rebels and Redcoats bar.

"We have also cut and resurfaced our lanes and approaches this summer. They look and feel brand new," she said.

New air conditioning has been installed throughout the building, it has a new, economy-friendly snack bar menu, with discounts for league bowlers and open bowlers.

The anniversary celebration is a yearlong deal, Neighborgall-Fisher said.

"All year, we will be honoring our bowlers because, after all, if it weren't for the bowlers we would not be here," she said.

Colonial has decided to not raise any prices for the fourth year in a row. It's having 99-cent Tuesdays for everyone -- all day, every Tuesday from open until close. It also will have gift giveaways during open and league play.

Free bowling passes will be handed out throughout the year.

Colonial Lanes also will be kick off its anniversary year with a tournament, set for 2 p.m. Aug. 30, run by its in-house tournament director, David Black. The business will donate $500 to the tournament prize fund.

"We also have a sponsor for our scratch league. They have generously donated $2,000 to that prize fund," she said.

The best thing about running Colonial Lanes is the sense of community, she said. She likes offering it up for benefits that raise money for good causes and bringing in families.

"Colonial is based on the belief that the kids and the community are most important," she said.

So every Saturday beginning in September, kids bowl free, with free shoes, from 1 to 3 p.m. Chaperones are required.

"This is a great relief for the family's wallet, and it is great way to spend time together and to interact in some friendly, family competition and keep active in your child's life," Neighborgall-Fisher said.

Colonial Lanes also will offer free bowling and giveaways on from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 6, to show off its new scoring system.


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