Free family bowling at Silver Strike on Sunday |

Free family bowling at Silver Strike on Sunday

by Maggie O'Neill

Nothing will be spared at this Sunday’s Family Bowling Night at Silver Strike to show teenagers and children that fun can be had without alcohol and drugs.

Bowling is free to families from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Gardnerville Ranchos entertainment center.

“What we do as soon as we start bowling, is start the laser light show and play rock-and-roll music,” said owner Doug Hellman. “It’s very much a party atmosphere. For two hours, it’s pandemonium.”

The Douglas County sheriff typically attends the event, and, according to Martie Graham-Jones, prevention coordinator for the Partnership for Community Resources, Ron Pierini has told her he wishes the event could occur more frequently.

“People love it,” Graham-Jones said. “I hear it all the time that people wish it could be more often. Sheriff Pierini has said that too. ‘Can we do this more than once a year?'”

The event started three years ago when Graham-Jones approached Hellman about hosting a family night.

“When she first approached us, right after we opened, I thought it was a great idea to give the kids somewhere to go for a couple of hours,” Hellman said. “They could bowl for free, and they could be in an environment where there’s a place to have fun without alcohol or smoking.”

The bowling alley is non-smoking, except in the bar area Hellman said. Alcohol will not be served during the event, but soda will be available from the bar.

“The whole idea behind the bowling night is to show families there are ways to have fun as a family that don’t involve alcohol and other drugs,” Graham-Jones said.

“It’s a great atmosphere. I walk around with a smile on my face, the energy is really high and everyone’s really excited.”

This year’s third annual Stand Tall Don’t Fall Family Bowling Night lands on the evening before an in-service day in the Douglas County School District. Students do not have school that Monday.

About 450 people attended the event the first year, and in the second year, nearly 350 people went. All children will get to bowl at least one free game on Sunday night.

“It makes me feel great,” Hellman said. “I always enjoy giving back to the community.”

Door prizes like hacky sacks, gift certificates, and ski rentals, will be given away. Information tables will provide information about being smoke-free. The Elks Club puts on a carnival for younger children.

“We wanted to have some kind of activity that people could do get together, not just what kids would like, and we thought bowling was a good family thing,” Graham-Jones said.

She said the Partnership will continue the event in the future as long as grant money comes through. Hellman co-owns the bowling alley with his wife, Ame, and with another individual named Craig Riggs. Silver Strike, located at 1281 Kimmerling Road, was built several years ago.

“We are one of the very few, if not the only, bowling center in Nevada that is smoke-free,” he said. “Personally, I don’t like to be around secondhand smoke.”

Many bowling alleys have smoking sections where people can smoke. Hellman owns another bowling alley in California that is entirely smoke-free because of state law.

For more information on Family Bowling Night, call Graham-Jones at the Partnership at 782-8611.

“It’s incredible what (the bowling alley) does for us,” she said.

“They really donate a lot.”