San Diego bowlers say state health guidelines leave them in gutter

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SAN DIEGO – Now that San Diego County has come off California’s coronavirus monitoring list, proprietors of local bowling alleys hope a return for their businesses isn’t far behind.

Bowlers from across the county took their frustrations into the streets Wednesday for a peaceful rally near Kearny Mesa Bowl.

Bowlers from across the county took their frustrations into the streets Wednesday for a peaceful rally near Kearny Mesa Bowl. The San Diego-based facility has been operational for much of the past 45 years, but has seen little action in more than a month due to pandemic-related shutdowns.

Before the second shutdown in early July, Elias Ohollaren was bowling at the alley as much as five times a week. Ohollaren, who bowls competitively, said it has been a struggle not having a place to practice.

“It’s really difficult to simulate considering that the lane is 60 feet long and the pins are this tall in length, 4 pounds each,” he said.

For Ohollaren, the sport is more than a hobby; it’s a passion that could land him in college on a scholarship.

“My son found bowling a few years ago and he’s really passionate about it and he bowls in leagues and these tournaments and wins scholarship money for college,” his father Sean said.

One of the most notable local advocates pulling for bowling alleys to return is Johnny Humble, the manager at Kearny Mesa Bowl. Humble, who manages two bowling facilities in the county, said employees are “suffering this time around really bad,” struggling without any additional federal unemployment money.

Before the recent shutdown, Humble said he had 80 employees. Now, he’s down two just two.

“The league bowlers are dying to bowl,” he said. “I just want to get back to business.”

As the organizer of Wednesday’s rally, Humble sent a clear message to state and local leaders “to hurry things along.”

“Send a message to the higher-ups that we’re here, we’re waiting, we’re able and we’re willing,” he said.

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