Pro Bowlers in Training at
Del Rio Lanes
Visiting Rotarian Veronica Odum from Rotary District 9141 in Nigeria with Downey Rotarians                                             (Getty Images)
This Past Tuesday, March 29, 2022
This week, Rotarians gathered at a different establishment, the Del Rio Lanes bowling alley. Our after was hosted by soon-to-be Rotatian Maike Cammarata, general manager of Del Rio Lanes. We met in a large party room to enjoy salads, pizza with a variety of toppings, spicy meatballs, and of course, cookies. 
We had a guest who was the furthest-away Rotarian. Veronica Odum is a Rotarian from District 9141 all the way in Nigeria. She is here in Downey because her sister lives out here and decided to visit some local clubs. 
Mike first got into bowling in the early 90s. Games were only 30 cents at the local bowling alley in San Bernardino at the time, so he was always there. Fast forward to July 1999, where Mike began working at Del Rio Lanes. He has been an employee ever since then and is soon approaching 23 years with the company. There are actually 5 employees who have been there longer than he has. Those employees have been with Del Rio Lanes for over 24 years. Mike really loves his job at Del Rio Lanes and says it its best compared to hosting a party at your own house. It is still a party, but as a host, there is work that needs to be done to make sure everyone has a good time. 
Del Rio Lanes opened in 1959. There are some places where you might see other years listed as the opening year, but Mike says those may be incorrect and the right year is 1959. Since then, they have grown from 2 locations to 10. There is always a new project happening to update the bowling alleys, whether it be here at Downey or at another location. Over the years, bowling has changed. League bowling started off strong in popularity in the 70s and 80s. Now, about 35% of revenue is league bowling instead of 70 % back in the day. Cosmic bowling has grown increasingly popular at Del Rio Lanes, along with open play, parties, and fundraisers. Del Rio Lanes does not do traditional advertisements with billboards or fancy commercials. They grow through word of mouth when people visit and have a good time. After being closed due to the pandemic, Del Rio Lanes is back strong with weekends continuing to sell out. 
To finish off, Mike stated that he doesn't view other bowling alleys as competition. He just loves bowling and hopes others grow to love it whether or not they play here or elsewhere. He says the true competition is movie theaters, mini-golf, or other family-friendly entertainment. 
If you haven't already had the chance to meet Mike, be sure to come to the meeting on April 12th where Mike will officially become inducted as a Rotarian.
Specialty bowling pins, usually used in special competitions or tournaments
The machine that keeps the lanes oiled. Think of it like a Roomba robot vacuum for bowling lanes. 
The machine that sets the bowling pin in place.
Next Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Join us at Rio Hondo Events Center for a special meeting where Rotary Recognizes Readers.
Proposed for Membership
Mike Cammarata
General Manager
Del Rio Lanes
Raul Manriquez
Rotarians Representing at the G.O.O.D Luncheon
A photo of the Rotary Table at the G.O.O.D Luncheon, as requested by John Lacey.
SnapShot: March 29, 2022
By Lorine Parks
The walls of the restaurant were decorated with blow-ups of old magazine covers showing bowling exploits.  This one, on close inspection, shows a male bowler pausing in trepidation while a lady kegler in the next lane is sending all the pins flying in a riotous strike.
Downey Rotary visited Del Rio Bowling Lanes, and a sizeable crowd turned out and enjoyed the pizzas, spicy meatballs and delicious big cookies.  Some people have strong opinions on whether or not pineapple belongs on a pizza, but Mike Cammarata, our host and general manager at Del Rio, offered a buffet of pizzas, loaded with cheese, black olives, green peppers, salami and pepperoni, as well as the Hawaiian delights, and let us choose.
Mike first came to Del Rio in the 1990’s, he said, when he was living in San Bernadino, and liked it so much he stayed. “Now I have a house right down the street,” Mike said.  In spite of being shut down during COVID, Del Rio is up again and prospering.  Not only bowling takes place: birthday parties are celebrated there, and anniversaries, Cosmic Bowling (in the dark with black lights), karaoke, as well as league competitions.
Del Rio Lanes is a hold-over from the days when bowling was a common family and community pastime, and leagues were everywhere.  Del Rio stages fundraisers for organizations ranging from schools and churches and baseball teams. Mike said he hopes that the program will cultivate a love of the activity in each individual, eventually leading to more regular bowlers and league sign-ups. 
He also says that this is a good way to give back to the kids in community. “Junior bowling isn’t a profitable thing most of the time,” said Mike. “But if kids like bowling, that’s your league-bowler of the future, your tournament bowler of the future.” Mike has been proposed as a member of Rotary Club of Downey, and we hope to welcome him soon.
After lunch Mike took the club on a tour of the premises, and I took the time instead to conduct several interviews. Sabrina is the Assistant General Manager, and her duties are to help Mike with scheduling, keeping the staff on track, coordinating calendered activities, organizing those birthday parties.
Bowling has come a long way.  Before automated pin setters, “pin boys” had to hop into the lanes and reset the pins between bowlers’ turns.  It was dangerous because on adjacent lanes they might still be bowling and flying wooden pins were a hazard.
I asked Sabrina how often they changed the wooden flooring at a bowling alley, and she said they never do that. “We just keep oiling it,” she said.  But Sabrina did admit that in the 50 years since I bowled here, in a Gallatin Medical Group League, the alley flooring has been replaced.  So it’s not the same alley when I scored my singular triumph, picking up the 7-10 pin split.  
The chances of picking off those “bedposts” are only about 0.7%.  I can still remember releasing the ball, watching one pin go down, not the one I had aimed for, and turning away because I knew it was hopeless, only to see everyone whooping and cheering.  The other pin had gone down too. I have the League patch to prove it, but I just can’t find it.
   Sabrina, part of the team and assistant manager at Del Rio Lanes
Sabrina’s involvement with bowling began when she was growing up in San Diego and bowling was a fun activity, a family bonding time.  She was a junior league bowler starting when she was only 7, so she fits in with the Del Rio philosophy. 
Sabrina lives in Rosemead now, and after graduating from Cal State LA, she worked in after-school programs.  After deciding she needed a second job, she interviewed here, and in December was promoted to the assistant manager’s job. “My mother always said,” said Sabrina, “do what you enjoy.  If you wake up happy to go to your job, you’re in the right place.  And I love it here.”  Eventually Sabrina hopes to go back and get her Master’s degree in the field of education.
Our club had a visiting Rotarian, Veronica, a Rotarian from Nigeria, and I sat down to talk with her too.  What brought Veronica to the Rotary Club of Downey?  “My sister lives here, and I have relocated to join her,” Veronica said. “I found your club location on my Rotary website,” Veronica said.  She’s checking out the local clubs.   Several club members stopped by where we were sitting, to invite Veronica to our club. “Rotary is my life,” Veronica said.  Six years ago she joined Rotary in Nigeria, and she has been secretary and then president of her club in District 9141.  Veronica has a nursing degree and intends to find a position in nursing education.  Dressed in a stunning one piece pants outfit in a brilliant red and yellow print, “I’m one of you,” she said. We hope she means it.
You’ve come a long way, baby
The New Yorker March 1942 cover shows a debutant dressed in her evening gown and gingerly holding a bowling ball, while one of her tuxedo-clad escorts holds her high-heeled dancing slippers.  The bowler in the next alley, his team-mates and some service personnel, look over in amusement.  It’s wartime.
Upcoming Events
G.O.O.D. Luncheon
Apr 04, 2022 11:30 AM
Keep Downey Beautiful
Apr 09, 2022
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
HSA Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser
Apr 14, 2022 5:00 PM
Unified Track Meet
Warren High School
Apr 27, 2022
9:00 AM - 1:30 PM
Running Springs
Apr 29, 2022 - May 01, 2022
Poker Tournament
McGrew's Residence
Apr 30, 2022
5:00 PM - 9:00 PM
District Conference
Lake Arrowhead
May 12, 2022 - May 15, 2022
Keep Downey Beautiful
May 14, 2022
9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
View entire list