A Hidden Gem on Main Street

Northern Lanes Bowling Alley, located at 510 Main Street in Presque Isle, is a busy spot on Friday nights. Community members and families pay a small fee for an eventful night together. Students from the University of Maine at Presque Isle partake in the fun for free on Friday nights.

The atmosphere of Northern Lanes breathes nostalgia into its patrons. The walls of this 14-lane candlepin bowling alley are home to handpainted advertisements and signage.

There is the sound of pins clanking followed by cheers. Playful snickers become part of the fun.

“Here we go, Collins,” Sean Harding, a fourth-year UMPI student, said.

Tommy Collins is a seasoned candlepin bowler. “I probably come here every other Friday,” he said.

He is most commonly seen there with the baseball team.

“Coming here is a good team builder. We always get some friendly competition going,” Collins, a fourth-year baseball player at UMPI, said.

Dale Nickerson, manager at the bowling alley since 2011, oversees the lanes.

Nickerson has been working for Northern Lanes since 2002 and has become a familiar face to the patrons of the alley.

“I have bowled all of my life, Nickerson said.

Nickerson’s love for the alley doesn’t go unnoticed. He stands behind the snack counter with a smile on his face. Here he sells affordable drinks and snacks to the patrons who have worked up a hunger.

There is a tradition at the bowling alley that Nickerson has to continually be on watch for. Among the white pins are a few red-striped pins. When bowlers have one of these pins at the front of their racks they yell out, “Pizza pin!”

All eyes in the bowling alley turn to these bowlers as they try for a strike. If they make a strike, Nickerson and the other bowling alley employees award a coupon. This coupon is for a free pizza from the Pizza Box, which is located conveniently across the street from the alley.

“I won my first pizza pin this year!” Collins said.

Winning also gives the bowlers and their groups the honor of having their pictures with a red-striped pin up on the Pizza Pin board. Their picture remains on this board for months to come.

“I love coming here,” Harding said. “The atmosphere is great and the people are always kind.”

Harding has also won the pizza pin only once in his four years of bowling at Northern Lanes. “It was the best day of my life,” Harding said.

Northern Lanes Bowling Alley is the perfect spot for a fun night out. Each string of bowling costs $2.50 per person and shoes are only $1.50! There is the added bonus that UMPI students play completely free every Friday night. Its family friendly atmosphere is perfect for all ages. You don’t want to miss out!