“BOL-YING FOR DOLLAS”: A Review of Star Lanes

CBUS Dads dad blogger Dan Farkas' kids enjoying some of the quality food options at Star Lanes Polaris

From the Full Disclosure Department, Star Lanes asked CBUS Dads to check out this event. Dan has worked with a PR agency that does work for Star Lanes. CBUS Dads has complete editorial control to write anything its wants in regards to this review. 

When I was five, I remember watching bowling on television. My mom reminds me quite often that I would run around the house screaming the phrase “BOL-YING FOR DOLLARS” interrupting any semblance of quiet in the Farkas household.

My kids Leah (seven) and Will (four) didn’t interrupt naptime, but they did express a great deal of enthusiasm asking questions about our first family bowling trip to Star Lanes Polaris. Upon arriving, things changed.

That’s because Star Lanes has arcade games. Lots of arcade games. The kids had a chance to eat and bowl first. No way. They were going to milk those games for as many tickets as humanly possible.

So, our first hour of family bowling was spent playing the guitar, racing motorcycles, shooting bad guys, and teaching the nuances of air hockey. There were no concerns over keeping all the tokens and trying to not lose all the tickets; Star Lanes gives you a card to swipe. Through the magic of technology, it keeps track of how many credits you have and how many tickets you earn. I have no idea why I never thought of this, but it makes arcade gaming so much easier. There’s only one thing you can possibly lose! Of course, Will lost his card for five minutes. But when you’re driving the Batmobile, this can happen.

CBUS Dads dad blogger Dan Farkas enjoying the wide array of arcade games at Star Lanes Polaris with his kids
CBUS Dads dad blogger Dan Farkas enjoying the wide array of arcade games at Star Lanes Polaris with his kids

One hour and several prizes later (a bouncy ball, a plastic spider, 2 finger traps, and a candy necklace), it was time to eat. Bowling alley food has a connotation that is less than optimal. Star Lanes had the staples: pizza, chicken tenders, etc. They also had this stuff called healthy food. I’m a guacamole snob, but it was really good! The vegetables were fresh and pretzels maybe aren’t kale, but they were a solid option. Of course, the kids ate no veggies, but Leah and Will gave the pizza a grade of “mighty tasty.”

My wife and seven-year old daughter, causing tears from the little one, decided to check out the “XD Dark Ride,” which is a brand new, interactive, 4D theater attraction. We decided it looked a bit too scary for Will, which caused a mini meltdown! My sweet Leah decided to go for the “Zombie” option. You sit in a chair, buckle up, grab your gun, and kill zombies while driving through a super scary forest.  I heard a lot of screaming from behind the curtain – and it was my wife! My daughter wanted to go again but my wife said she had enough zombies for the day!

CBUS Dads dad blogger Dan Farkas' daughter Leah enjoying(?) the zombie game at Star Lanes Polaris
CBUS Dads dad blogger Dan Farkas’ daughter Leah enjoying(?) the zombie game at Star Lanes Polaris

Oh yeah, there was also some bowling at the bowling alley. I remember going to my grandmother’s bowling alley in Zanesville. It wreaked of smoke, seats upholstered in 1912 and you had to add the scores by hand.

Star Lanes took a far different approach. For starters, they have four massive screens so we could watch the NFL games and see my fantasy football team implode before my very eyes. They also had really comfortable couches. I know they were comfortable because Will wanted to jump on them all afternoon, and we had to strongly encourage him to stop.

The space was also very functional; they have space underneath the tables where you can store your personal items like purses, shoes and bouncy balls. That’s a big plus with kids.

Oh yeah, the bowling. We did that. The alley had bumper lanes for kids and could be taken down automatically for adults. My wife and I decided to keep the bumpers on because we stink at bowling. And we bowled the best games of our lives! As for the kids, words don’t truly convey their thoughts but they really did have a blast!

The only downside of the entire experience was the bar. It was open, fully stocked and looked delightful. I had to go on a run that night and couldn’t enjoy proper hydration I would have liked to.

Good thing is there’s always a next time. Modern, contemporary and technologically-advanced are terms you may not associate with bowling. Star Lanes Polaris had all those bells and whistles. Still, the core of any fun bowling experience is the bowling itself. We played for an hour, the kids never asked to look at phone, laughed, and even knocked down some pins on occasion. I may never go “BOL-YING FOR DOLLAS” anytime soon, but I’ll definitely go back to Star Lanes for a family bowling day again.

-By Dan Farkas, Contributor

Your Columbus Clippers

Skyline view from Huntington Park

If you’re a parent in Columbus, you’ve probably taken your kids to Huntington Park for a Clippers game. We took our two little ones on a recent Sunday, and we can’t wait to go back.

I’ve been going to Clippers games regularly since childhood (and the days of Cooper Stadium), but the opening of the new ballpark about a decade ago boosted my attendance, even as a childless adult. I’ve always admired the intimate, fan-first design of Huntington Park in that it provides various vantage points and ticket options.

For instance, we started this summer afternoon, sitting in the outfield lawn. After a few innings taking in the game from a blanket spread across the grass, we worked our way around the stadium, stopping at various kids attractions and activities along the way. Strollers are still a necessity for our operation, and not only are Clippers staffers accommodating, but it’s welcomed to move about the facility with one.

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Adults will be pleased that the beer is reasonably-priced and local options are readily available. The same is true for the food, which ranges from standard ballpark eats to local stops including City Barbeque and Bob Evans.

By the time we made our way to the sea of picnic benches stashed near the right field corner, we were ready for a bite.

As we finished our snacks, we posted up along the railing separating this areas and the bleacher seats. Both us and the kids could easily keep an eye on the action, while still prioritizing our socializing.

The view from the right field corner at Huntington Park
The view from the right field corner at Huntington Park

From this site, you don’t need kids (in fact it probably would be easier) to marvel at the gorgeous views of our city’s skyline Huntington Park has carved out for us.

This was just our second game with little ones, so we are still novices, but after digging into it, they unsurprisingly have an entire season-long program called MVP Kids Club dedicated to children, coincidentally culminating on Sundays. We will certainly look into this next season and beyond.

While we weren’t enrolled in the Club, the kids got to run the bases after the game. This was without a doubt a highlight for them and worth staying for.

Running the bases at Huntington Park post Clippers games.
Running the bases at Huntington Park post Clippers games.

Since this was my son’s first game, he was sent a certificate honoring this milestone. Hit up Guest Services while you’re there, and they’ll take down your information. It’s really easy and a fun memento.

My son's first game certificate from the Columbus Clippers
My son’s first game certificate from the Columbus Clippers

From my experience, there’s very few activities in central Ohio that are as family-friendly as a Clippers game in Huntington Park, that also satisfies the adults. And I personally take pride in taking my children to an urban environment that is safe and enjoyable for our family.

The season is close to over, so I recommend getting a game in before we are stuck waiting for 2018.

 

A Review of Eat Pak’d

A plate full of food from Eat Pak'd

In February, CBUS Dads was invited to a party for Columbus influencers (somehow we fooled them into inviting us), introducing Eat Pak’d to the community. Based in Chicago and new to Columbus, the mission of Eat Pak’d is to fill kids’ bellies with wholesome, homemade ingredients – free of fillers and preservatives.

The party was hosted at Firefly Play Cafe, which I wasn’t aware of previously, but is the original play cafe in Columbus. Quick shoutout to them, as the space is great. It’s centrally-located, so it makes for a good playdate location. They could easily warrant a dedicated blog post about them.

A few of us attended, accompanied by our little ones. While the kids played and occasionally swooped in for a bite, the parents learned more about Eat Pak’d and its offerings.

Fortunately, Eat Pak’d offered a free in-home trial following this event. Never one to turn down free food, I happily obliged.

CBUS Dads blogger Steve Michalovich's daughter enjoying her meal from Eat Pak'd
CBUS Dads blogger Steve Michalovich’s daughter enjoying her meal from Eat Pak’d

Some time later, five Paks arrived at our doorstep in a package with dry ice. They offer a wide-ranging menu. We received BBQ chicken tacos, chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, sun butter and jelly, and host of veggies, fruits and pretzels as sides. My two-year-old daughter is a pretty solid eater, but admittedly, some of the meals were maybe a bit exotic for her underdeveloped pallet. But the quality and freshness was impeccable – I’d probably give her a couple more years before relying solely on Eat Pak’d for a meal just yet. I was happy to polish off what remained on her plate, and I can safely say, everything was delicious.

Eat Pak’d guarantees their Paks are designed by nutritionists and crafted by chefs, limiting sugar, sodium and refined grains. The food is all locally-sourced and nutrient-rich.

Eat Pak’d aspires to be a partner in providing quality food for kids at the most important times of the day. The experience does feel like a partnership and is very interactive, as parents, with their children, can choose, and even create their own meals on the Eat Pak’d website. Part of the value proposition is removing the time it takes to plan, shop and prepare kid’s meals and making it a fun experience for the entire family.

I’m keeping my eyes on Eat Pak’d as my kids get older and wish them the best as they continue to expand.

By Steven Michalovich, Regular Contributor

The Chilly Open Lives Up to its Claim as the “Best Winter Party in Town”

The Debits adorn the stage at the Chilly Open

An underrated Columbus event that has been rapidly climbing my rankings of events and festivals around town – even before having kids – is the Chilly Open. Put on by the Westerville Sunrise Rotary Club, the Chilly Open has taken place annually (the first Saturday in February to be exact) for 20 years. In those 20 years, the event has raised $2.5 million for local charities. The Rotary Club organizes and runs everything the day of, along with the help of 300 volunteers. Because of this support, all proceeds go to charity. Kroger and Papa John’s are the title sponsors, with an impressive list of local businesses and individuals chipping in too.

On paper, this event already has a lot going for it in my book. One, it’s in February, which is typically dreary, cold and lacking for things to do. Two, the Chilly Open lives at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, so it’s an excuse to come out to the Zoo in winter. All of the pavilions at the Water’s Edge Events Park are consumed by the Chilly Open. Conjoining them is a large heated tent where the main stage is located.

I’ll start with why this event is awesome for adults. Tickets are $45, which is an admittedly steep ticket price, especially if you and your wife go. But that ticket gets you four drinks (wine or Miller Lite draft). It also gets you unlimited food from 30 incredible food vendors that include local favorites Polaris Grill, Skyline Chili, Watershed Distillery, Bon Vie Bistro, Winking Lizard, Old Bag of Nails, City Barbecue, Cameron Mitchell, 101 Beer Kitchen, Asterisk Supper Club, and Koble to name a few. Each offers small plates and samples of their finest dishes and recipes.

That aforementioned stage houses local band The Debits for the majority of the five-hour day (noon-5 p.m.). They have a funny story in how they came together, but they rock out the Chilly Open every year. I was completely hooked well before their third John Mellencamp cover for the day. They are a fun group and completely interactive with the crowd, promoting dancing and fun with women, children and over-served gentlemen.

Bonus for Dom Tiberi, everyone’s favorite local sportscaster, serving as the emcee.

This is all great stuff, but what about the kids?

Superheroes at the Children's Open

Included in the price of admission is access to the Children’s Open in a separate heated, indoor facility. It’s a little kid’s fantasyland that includes face painting, animal visits, bounce houses, inflatable mazes, Wii games, food and drinks, laser tag, and seemingly endless activities. Kudos to the volunteers in costume adding to the thrill (honestly I think I was more psyched than any of the kids).

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We started our day there to let my daughter blow off some steam before transitioning to the Chilly Open. She’s only two, but kids 5-12 can be left without their parents. It’s wildly secure with matching wristbands for kids and their parents and a full staff of volunteers supervising all activities.

To cap the day, my daughter got a ride on the conveniently adjacent carousel for giving her mom and dad two solid hours at the Chilly Open.