Behind the Scenes of What Might Be the Most Unusual Bowling Alley in America

George P Thomas

In a small strip mall in Ellsworth, Maine, lies a historic landmark: Deanda's Bowling Alley. 

This isn't your average bowling alley with shiny lanes and automatic pinsetters. Deanda's boasts a unique history and a determined young owner, Autumn Mai, who is fighting to keep it alive.

A recent documentary by NEWS CENTER Maine titled "This might be the most unusual bowling alley in America. Want a behind-the-scenes look?" explores the story of Deanda's Bowling Alley and the challenges Autumn faces in preserving this piece of Maine's heritage.

Candlepin Bowling: A Maine Tradition

Candlepin bowling is a variation of ten-pin bowling, once a popular sport in Maine. Unlike ten-pin bowling, which uses heavy balls and pins, candlepin bowling uses lighter pins and balls, making it more accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

Deanda's Bowling Alley has been a beloved spot for the Ellsworth community for many years. It's a place where families gather for fun nights out, friends hold friendly competitions, and league bowlers hone their skills. However, candlepin bowling, like many other niche sports, has seen a decline in popularity in recent years.

A Young Owner With a Big Dream

Enter Autumn Mai, a 19-year-old with a big dream and an even bigger challenge. Two years ago, Autumn, with the help of her family, fiance, and some financial aid, purchased Deanda's Bowling Alley. What she didn't anticipate was the immense responsibility that came with owning a piece of history.

The Biggest Challenge: Keeping the Past Alive

The biggest hurdle Autumn faces is maintaining the antique pinsetting machines. These machines, dating back to 1949, are the oldest candlepin setting machines in the world. They are prone to breakdowns, and parts are nearly impossible to find. In some cases, Autumn has to fabricate parts herself to keep the machines running.

The danger of working on these machines prevents Autumn from hiring employees to help her. She shoulders the burden of running the bowling alley herself, often working 70 to 80 hours a week. This dedication has come at a cost - Autumn even fractured her hand while trying to fix one of the machines.

A Passion for Preservation

Despite the challenges, Autumn's determination to keep Deanda's Bowling Alley running is unwavering. She sees the bowling alley as more than just a business; it's a community hub, a place where people connect and create lasting memories. She feels a sense of responsibility to preserve this piece of Maine's history for future generations.

A Look Ahead

The documentary ends with a glimpse of Autumn's plans for the future. She is committed to making improvements to the bowling alley, including replacing the aging pinsetting machines. To generate more interest in the bowling alley, she is also offering behind-the-scenes tours, giving visitors a unique look at the history and mechanics of candlepin bowling.

A Legacy of Fun

Deanda's Bowling Alley stands as a testament to the enduring spirit of small-town America. It's a place where tradition is cherished, and community bonds are strengthened over friendly competition. Autumn Mai's dedication to keeping this historic venue alive ensures that future generations can experience the joy of candlepin bowling.

In Conclusion

The story of Deanda's Bowling Alley is a heartwarming tale of perseverance and passion. It's a reminder of the importance of preserving our history and the vital role small businesses play in our communities. Autumn Mai's dedication to Deanda's is an inspiration to us all. Let's hope her efforts secure the future of this unique bowling alley for years to come.

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                This article is based on the Youtube video [This might be the most unusual bowling alley in America. Want a behind-the-scenes look?]( by NEWS CENTER Maine. It is important to note that while the video provides a detailed look at Deanda's Bowling Alley and Autumn Mai's challenges, this article expands on the information presented by offering additional context and insights.