Last candlepin bowling alley in Worcester closes, owner says COVID-19 concerns were last strike

The iconic New England sport of candlepin bowling was invented in Worcester but now, because of COVID-19, there are no longer any candlepin bowling alleys in the city.

WORCESTER, Mass. — The iconic New England sport of candlepin bowling was invented in Worcester but now, because of COVID-19, there are no longer any candlepin bowling alleys in the city.

After six decades in business, the pandemic proved to be the final strike for the Colonial Bowling Center.

“The pins were actually broomsticks, they made them broomsticks, they cut them off the brooms,” manager Paul Wambach said.

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He said he worked at the business for 30 years, about half his life.

“We were one of the first that was built to be a bowling alley,” Wambach said.

When the sport was at its peak, there were about 25 candlepin alleys in Worcester alone. One by one, things slowed down and they began closing. The Colonial became the last in the city.

Things slowed down there as well, and Wambach said that the 91-year-old owner just reached a breaking point with coronavirus.

“The virus came along and it shut us down and just kind of made his decision a little easier, just maybe this is the time to end it. I’ve shed a few tears, it’s been very upsetting,” Wambach explained.

It’s upsetting to long-time bowlers too.

“I used to bring my son here when he was young, as a divorced dad this was a great place to recreate with your son, and I tell you it’s a real loss to the community,” Chris Mudd said.

It is possible that someone could buy the business and keep it open as a bowling alley, but that person would have to buy it with the understanding that it would not be able to open right away.

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