If you’re looking for good, old-fashioned family fun you can enjoy no matter what the weather is like, you’d be hard-pressed to beat bowling. Queens has a number of places to enjoy the game, including Astoria Bowl, Whitestone Lanes in Flushing and Cozy Bowl in Ozone Park. And not far from the very center of the borough is Jib Lanes in Electchester, which draws everyone from the seasoned professional to high school teams, younger kids and even preschoolers, who get to play with a little help from technology.
“We like to say bowling is a lifetime sport,” said Joe LaSpina, who co-owns Jib Lanes with his father, John, and sister, Teresa McCarthy. “It’s one of the few things you can start as a 2-year-old and still do as a 100-year-old.”
Yes, today you can bring your toddlers bowling. They get to roll the ball down cool dragon-themed ramps for momentum, and Jib has lanes where bumpers along the side are programmed to rise to prevent gutter balls. Those amenities mean Jib Lanes is booking more and more birthday parties for 2- and 3-year-olds. Bowling is already the most popular birthday party activity for 5- to 8-year-olds, according to industry statistics, LaSpina said.
For the older ones, Jib Lanes offers a number of leagues, and it also hosts teams in the Public School Athletic League, such as Townsend Harris High School’s squad. Now is the perfect time to sign up for one of Jib’s leagues, which run with the school year. It offers three different ones that start on Saturdays at 10 a.m.
The Bantams are bowlers between 5 and 8 years old. Teenagers compete in the Preps and Juniors. And all kids, mostly those 5 to 12, can join a parent, grandparent or other adult on a two-person team in the Adult-Child League.
Two other programs for children start Sept. 18, with mentors teaching younger kids how to bowl. One is $8 a week and runs eight weeks; the other is $12 a week and runs for 12 weeks. At the end of either one, participants get a free bowling ball of their own.
“We cycle a lot of kids through the building every week,” LaSpina said. “It’s nice.”
Jib also offers many programs for adults, including free lessons. You can learn more at jiblanes.com. And, along with the family’s three bowling alleys on Long Island, and one in Florida, it’s hosting more and more fundraisers, especially ones helping animal rescue groups.
Of course, you can also just come and hit the lanes anytime. Jib is open every day of the year. And it’s got all the amenities you’d expect — other games, food, soft drinks and a full bar.
LaSpina’s family has been in the bowling business for three generations, more than 50 years, and he loves seeing his customers have such a great time knocking down those pins.
“Compare bowling to golf,” he said. “It’s hard to play golf; it’s hard to enjoy golf until you’re good. With bowling, the barriers to entry are much lower. You can have a fun bowling experience almost the first time you do it.”