LYONS CLASSIC PINBALL
339-A Main Street, Lyons, CO, 80540, USA.
Report by Dave Mercer
Nestled in the foothills of Boulder County in north central Colorado is a pinball gem called Lyons Classic Pinball. This unassuming location features some of the best variety and quality of pinball to be found in the United States.
LCP has 36 pinballs to play, from a 1961 Kismet to a 2006 Pirates of the Caribbean, from a Joust pinball to a Hercules to an Orbitor 1, with a wide selection of titles in between those dates. The owners, Kevin and Carole Carroll opened their arcade in the spring of 2003 and have been adding games and fun ever since.
Kevin and Carole played pinball in their late teen years on the Jersey shore, but didn't realize they had pinball in common until they started dating and took a trip to Florida where they found the pinballs at the resorts more attractive than some of the rides. A vacation trip to Colorado to visit relatives led to them decide that this beautiful state was where they wanted to live, so they bought a house in Lyons (which is north and west of Denver), and moved here in 1995. They remember playing pinball in town at a brewpub called Oskar Blues, it was a Monster Bash.
Carole later decided to surprise Kevin on his birthday in 2001 by buying a KISS pinball, Kevin is a musician, and a fan of the group, and the music of the era. After a motorbike ride with his friends Kevin got talked into going downstairs at the house, where he was shocked to find the game set up and ready to play, Carole had smuggled it into the house while he was out riding. Kevin was so stunned with this present that he let everyone else play it that day, and didn't get to try it out until all his friends had left.
This game kind of "broke the ice" so to speak, and the couple started researching to see what other games might be available, and the internet proved helpful, all of a sudden all kinds of games seemed to be out there. An Addams Family became the second game owned, and then a search led to a Black Knight. Carole was convinced that they would never have as many games as they saw in other collector's houses, little did she know! The hobby proved addicting as many of us can testify, and the games started crowding the basement.
Inspired by a visit to Las Vegas to see Tim Arnold's massive collection of games in his "big shed", and uninspired by the quality and quantity of games that they could find on location (because now they made a point of searching out games to play) they decided that as long as they had the games (over twenty at this point) and the desire, they might as well give their own game room a shot. With the help of a supportive landlord, they acquired a location in the small town of Lyons.
Main street is basically two blocks long, and there are only about 2000 residents. Lyons is on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park however, so Kevin and Carole were counting on people seeing their game room as they passed by. Lyons Classic Pinball is in a building that's more than 100 years old, and was formerly a feed store, among other things.
This game room is truly a labor of love, Kevin and Carole pretty much exclusively run the shop when it's open. Kevin's philosophy is to have a wide selection of games to play, all clean and running great, along with an environment conducive to pinball play. That means subdued, non glaring lighting, a change machine for quarters at the front door, and informative placards placed on the wall above each game with information specific to that title. Lyons can be as much a museum as a gameroom because each era and game has a history and a story to tell.
When people first walk into the arcade they are amazed, some people will see a particular game they remember playing "back in the day", and walk right up to it, others are seeing these games for the first time. If Kevin sees that you are somewhat unsure of how to play he'll be glad to put on a couple of credits, and explain the rules and scoring to you, so you can enjoy your time playing that game, and hopefully others. At times kids will come in, and wonder how to play these big beasts, and they're also shown the same consideration. There are a couple of old time videos in the game room so they don't feel joystick-deprived.
Snacks, candy, water and sodas are available to purchase, and if an adult beverage is more to your liking you can walk a short distance to the Oskar Blues brewpub, the same one that featured the Monster Bash several years earlier.
The Carrolls have opened Lyons Classic Video in the basement of that restaurant/bar where you can play over twenty classic videos, like Donkey Kong, Defender, Q-bert, Tempest, or Paperboy. There are also two pinballs in this second arcade, for the flipper-deprived. Oskar Blues offers extended hours relative to LCP, and live entertainment, and the two gamerooms compliment each other very nicely.
Since it's opening over three years ago Lyons Classic Pinball has grown and prospered. Word of mouth, along with newspaper and television coverage have served to let people know that there's pinball to be played on the front range.
I would guess that the games have been "turned over" or changed out completely at least three times now, so you'll always find something new and different to play. This is pretty amazing in an era where you're lucky to find more than one game at a location that even works how it's supposed to, much less rotated to a different game more than once every five years. There are now four rooms jammed full of games, in theory there's no more room for even one more pin.
Imagine having a ten week league, and not having to play the same game twice. Lyons status as a premium location has been recognized by the IFPA as their events are now sanctioned.
Lyons Colorado is located about 45 miles northwest from the center of Denver, about 15 miles north of the city of Boulder, and 20 miles south and east of Estes Park, which is at the entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Lyons and the surrounding foothills are noted for their wealth of outdoor activities both in town and nearby, and are a mecca for artists, musicians, outdoor enthusiasts and antique collectors, and now pinball. There are several good places to eat as well, I have a favorite Mexican restaurant there. You can catch a bus to Lyons from Boulder if need be, otherwise a car is probably the best resource.
Please consider adding Lyons as an activity to do should you live in, or visit Colorado, or even make it a reason to visit our fair state or country. You won't be disappointed.
Dave Mercer is the owner of For Amusement Only of Fort Collins, Colorado, the famed supplier of pinball parts, manuals, flyers and books for nearly 30 years.
Video clips from Lyons Classic Pinball are available on YouTube.
© Pinball News 2006