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Some Woodhaven Lanes customers had tears in their eyes as they bid goodbye to the Glendale bowling alley Sunday after nearly 50 years in business.
April Simpson, a Long Island City resident who has participated in a Sunday league at Woodhaven Lanes for about 10 years, said the alley was more than just a place to throw bowling balls.
"We've seen people die in this league," Simpson said. "We've seen people married, babies be born. We've seen everything here."
She called the alley "a second home."
"This is like family fun and I don't know why they're doing this to the community. I'm so sad about it," she said.
Before the 6 p.m. closing, Woodhaven Lanes held a tournament for customers in the early afternoon followed by open bowling.
Bob Sostermann, a longtime Glendale customer, walked through Woodhaven Lanes with a camcorder in his hand to record his last memories of the alley.
"This is terrible," said Sostermann, 43, as he wandered through the alley with his young daughters, Kayla and Kelly. "I've been bowling here since I was 8 in 1973."
Wearing teal T-shirts with "Save Woodhaven Lanes" emblazoned with green puffy paint on the front, Jim Santoro and his wife, Donna Fazio, lamented the closing.
"This is very sad," said Santoro, who helped run two leagues at Woodhaven Lanes. "We fought long and hard to try and keep it a bowling alley. But in the end money won out."
Brunswick Corporation, the Virginia-based company that owned Woodhaven Lanes, said it had to close the alley because its lease is expiring. The center had been in business for 49 years.
Fazio, who welled up while bowling her final game at the alley, called the closing "a disgrace."
The couple said they plan to bowl at Cozy Lanes in Ozone Park now that their favorite alley shuttered its doors.
James Parker, a Brooklyn resident who practices at Woodhaven Lanes four to five times a week, said the closing felt like losing a family member.
"I practically live here," Parker said. "I'm just going to miss this place."
Frantz Colbert, a 51-year-old Astoria resident, said although Woodhaven Lanes was a trip from his home, "it was worth the drive to me.
"I learned my craft here," said Colbert, who participated in the same league as Simpson.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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