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Pinball Wizards At Home In Colo. Mountain Town

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Pinball machines are alive and well in a small mountain town in Colorado, giving a new generation a taste of the past. NPR's Ahmad Shafi has the story.


When was the last time you heard this sound:


MARTIN: Pinball machines are as popular as ever in a small mountain town in Colorado, giving a new generation a taste of the past. NPR's Ahmad Shafi has the story.


AHMAD SHAFI, BYLINE: Lyons, Colorado sits in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, about 20 miles north of Boulder. It's known for its annual music festivals and art scene. But in downtown Lyons, there's a business that doesn't fit that mold.

KEVIN CARROLL: Once my wife bought me the first machine, and she says it's a pinball machine, and she goes, go see what pinball? I said I don't really care. It's a pinball. Oh, my God.

SHAFI: Kevin Carroll owns Lyons Classic Pinball Arcade and Store. He and his wife, Carole, opened the business almost a decade ago. It didn't start as a business, though. Kevin says his wife gave him a pinball machine for his birthday. They both played on the machine and they flipped for pinball. So, they bought more machines, eventually ending up with over 20 in their basement.

CARROLL: Friends would come over and we would say, hey, you want to go down and play some pinball before we go to dinner? And they'd be like pinball? I guess. And once you got them down there, they were like one more game, one more game, one more game.

SHAFI: At Carole's suggestion, Kevin opened his business with around 40 pinball machines. The oldest machine in this store is from 1961, featuring a game called Kismet. Kevin says it's hard to make money a dime and a quarter at a time, but for him it's a labor of love.

CARROLL: I'm a player first, businessman second. We're mainly about the pinball, not about how much can we make.

SHAFI: For customers, like Trey Maddox, Lyons Classic Pinball brings back childhood memories.

TREY MADDOX: Oh yeah, when I was a kid I loved pinball and the noise, the, oh, the shaking of it, the interaction of it. I mean, I had whole formulas around how to make your one dollar, you know, in quarters last the longest.


SHAFI: For other customers, the game is more than a pastime now. Christian Vigil, who played pinball growing up, says no other game compares.

CHRISTIAN VIGIL: Pinball isn't really about just arcade gaming. It's a sensory experience. All your senses are involved. And it's a very subculture of people that enjoy playing it.


SHAFI: Back and Lyons Classic Pinball, the sounds of the old and new pinball machines, mixed with the cheers of old and new pinball fans. Ahmad Shafi, NPR News.


MARTIN: This is NPR News.

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