Columbus After Dark: Columbus Square Bowling Palace

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

1:40 a.m.: As a kid growing up in Westerville, I never made a late-night Schneider's run, but I certainly bowled my share of frames at Columbus Square Bowling Palace. We venture to the strip-mall bowling emporium next.

Outside we gawk at the sign for the lanes' Final Frontier Video Arcade. Very 1987. Inside, judging from the Eminem, Limp Bizkit and Nirvana videos playing, they haven't changed the music selections since I was in high school.

Undeterred by taunts from his pal Gabby Wimbley, Daquae Toudle tosses a strike. He usually bowls in a Sunday league at Holiday Lanes - he averages about 202 with a personal best of 276 - but he and his friends came to the Palace tonight so they could bowl late.

"A lot of weird people come in here, especially after dark," says Aaron Campbell, who works the front desk from 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. four nights a week. But the real character is Campbell himself. He bides his time between shoe rentals perfecting the card tricks he used to perform on the San Diego boardwalk.

Campbell amazes us with a deceptively drab illusion that ends with a smashing climax, then knocks us out with stories about unruly teens who pelted him with chicken feet on prom night after he denied them entry without ID.

"Who carries chicken feet in their car on prom night?" he asks, perplexed.

Columbus Square Bowling Palace

5707 Forest Hills Blvd., Westerville