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Summer sanctuary?

Gibby's Lanes could become a new summer hang-out for kids.

Thanks to owner Jamie Gibson, the local bowling alley is offering one daily, free game of bowling and a free shoe rental to children 18 years and younger.

"I've had some parents come up to me and say how excited they are about the new program," Gibson said. "They want to thank me, which is nice."

The free offer runs on Mondays through Thursdays, May 5 through Sept. 1, anytime the lanes are open from 2 p.m. to closing.

Kids can take advantage of the free game offer each and every day if they'd like. Players can play with or without bumpers, allowing kids of all ages to participate.

"Basically, I want to give kids an alternative to walking the streets in the summer," Gibson explained. "We have a safe atmosphere here, it's clean and we have lots of video games to keep them busy too."

No other bowling alleys that he knows of offer free bowling to young people during the summer months, Gibson said, but it sounded like a good idea to him.

"It's my slow time of the year anyway," he said. "If it pans out, it pans out. In not, that's OK."

Gibson remembers his days as a youth in the Star Prairie and New Richmond areas. Although he didn't get into a lot of trouble in the summer months, many of his friends did.

"I grew up in this town," Gibson explained. "Once school got out, that's when kids started to get into trouble."

Some of the trouble kids get into are the result of drug and alcohol use or experimentation, he noted. If he can stop some of those bad choices from occurring, Gibson said he's happy to help.

"Any parent who doesn't think there's a drug problem in town needs a wake-up call," he said. "Kids have a lot of time on their hands in the summer, and that's when problems start."

Groups of neighborhood kids are welcome to stop by for a game, or a parent with a bunch of kids can take advantage of the offer as well, Gibson said. It's not intended to provide free bowling to school or child care facilities, however.

Once the young bowlers have completed their daily free game, Gibson said the kids are welcome to stick around to bowl some more (with normal fees applying) or try their hand at video games.

"This is an opportunity for me to give something back to the community," he said. "I'm hoping it goes over well."

Gibson said he also hopes that a few kids who take advantage of the summer program develop a life-long interest in bowling.

Gibson hopes his effort to provide kids with inexpensive summer activities doesn't stop at Gibby's Lanes.

"I challenge other businesses in town to do this sort of thing," he said.

For more information, contact Gibby's Lanes at 715-246-BOWL.