This bowling alley first opened the year John F. Kennedy was elected president, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird came out and the original Psycho was released in movie theaters. From its vantage point on 35 in Sea Girt, the Lanes has seen a lot, and sadly has seen better times. Business was iffy the last few years prior to the pandemic, but the virus is what really put them behind the 8 ball.

Don Corcione is the manager and he spoke appreciatively to about his workers. “A lot of people would have walked out once they saw the writing on the wall but not the people that work with me. They’re like my family.”

Another guy filled with sadness is Dan Donovan. He’s with Cosmic Jerry, a Grateful Dead cover band. You see, about seven years back Corcione saw the success Asbury Lanes was having with combining bowling and live entertainment. He got even crazier with it and put a stage right in the middle of the lanes. Music fans couldn’t help but get engrossed in the bowling and bowlers couldn’t help being drawn into the music.

Cosmic Jerry started playing there in 2018 and Donovan and Corcione quickly put together an annual charity music festival called “Pack the Bowl.” Now, if you don’t get the double meaning you’re not partaking in what many Dead fans do. The event raised thousands for Rescue Ridge, a no-kill animal shelter.

This weekend is the Lanes' last. Donovan will play their last show there the day before they close for good. He’s sad, but also grateful to Corcione. “He basically kept the music scene going around here for the last year,” he said, referring to how the pandemic shut down almost all venues but because they were able to achieve social distancing the Lanes was still available to musicians. “A lot of us are very, very sad to see it go. It was a shelter in the storm for us.”

Imagine the personal history. You could have bowled here as a 5 year old in ‘65, brought your own daughter here in ‘95, then your own grandson here in 2019. It’s another one of these places that made Jersey Jersey, gave it character, and was a touchstone for people’s very lives. Replacing it? The most likely scenario is the building will be leveled and a new structure built to house several retail stores. Just another strip mall most likely.

The kind of strip mall nobody gets nostalgic for and never feels like home.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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