Donors unite to keep Pinball Pete’s from reaching game over

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MONDAY, Jan. 11 — If you grew up in Greater Lansing, or have spent time hanging out on Michigan State University’s campus, you probably have a great story about Pinball Pete’s. The arcade hall and Spartan stomping ground is an epicenter for first dates, birthday parties and otherwise unforgettable nights out. Now, amid the devastating coronavirus pandemic, Pinball Pete’s is calling on the public for help.

Nick Reynolds, social media manager for Pinball Pete’s and the son of owner Mike Reynolds, said being closed for the majority of the year took a huge financial toll.

“We went through that whole period of time still paying for rent, utilities and taxes with absolutely no foot traffic. We kept up with everything that we could,” Reynolds said. “We determined our only real option was to ask the community to lend us a hand.”

The GoFundMe campaign launched by Pinball Pete’s on Christmas has so far earned $97,500 of its $125,000 goal. There has been an outpouring of support on social media, and comments left by donors on the GoFundMe page weave a thread of warm nostalgic tales.

“It's where my wife and I have our annual air hockey match. Without that event, how will we decide who has to buy the cookies across the street?” Craig Maddox commented. “Friends, the fate of our cookies — and my marriage — depends on Pete's. Please donate.”

Other donors used the comment section to give tongue-in-cheek apologies for the times they showed up to Pinball Pete’s after having perhaps a little bit too much to drink.

“I snuck in here just to use the bathroom once while waiting in the Rick's line. This donation is also my apology,” wrote Emily Levy.

“I have donated $25 twice now as an apology for some questionable behavior, which got me kicked out of the East Lansing Pinball Pete's,” Danielle Arias commented.

Reynolds said the overwhelmingly positive response to the campaign has lifted spirits and alleviated some of the stress for him and the rest of the Pinball Pete’s crew.

“I can’t put into the words the impact it’s had on my family, and the way it’s made everybody in the business feel,” Reynolds said.

Pinball Pete’s in East Lansing is currently open with limited hours, capacity limits and social distancing guidelines. Reynolds said asides from a donation, coming down to the arcade, respecting the rules and enjoying some classic games is a great way to help Pinball Pete’s keep its neon lights on.

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