Collins Bowling Centers marked the 50th anniversary of the Eastland lanes' grand opening Saturday. The center opened in August 1959, but the grand opening celebration wasn't held until Oct. 31. The main attraction that Halloween was a demonstration by the legendary Andy Varipapa.
Varipapa was an outstanding bowler and a master trick-shot artist. Dave Siegel, who was general manager of Eastland at that time, said Varipapa put on quite a show to a packed house. Siegel said the demonstration was followed by an autograph session that was a big hit with the crowd.
Varipapa was elected to the American Bowling Congress Hall of Fame in 1957. Among his many accomplishments, he won the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America All-Star tournament in 1946 and 1947. The event was the top tournament in bowling prior to the formation of the Professional Bowlers Assocation.
When Eastland opened, there wasn't much on New Circle Road, which was known then as the State Beltline Highway. Eastland was the first modern bowling center in Lexington and has been the site of many memorable events. Some of those events will be detailed here in the coming weeks.