Bowling in the Bayou Region

Kelby Toups staff

In South Louisiana, bowling alleys created big communities that enjoy the sport both for casual and competitive players. However, with the decline in demand for these bowling alleys, there aren’t many locations left to enjoy. 

Creole Lanes is the only surviving bowling alley in the Houma-Thibodaux area. Located in Houma, Louisiana, Creole Lanes opened its doors in 1983. 

“In order for the bowling alley to stay in business, we always want to keep that middle ground to benefit from our competitive players and the families and friend groups,” says Zachary Jones, a long-time manager at Creole Lanes.

"In order for the bowling alley to stay in business, we always want to keep that middle ground to benefit from our competitive players and the families and friend groups."

Twenty years ago, Jones says “Evergreen Junior High would have their PE classes come every so often to give their students class credit to bowl.”

While Creole Lanes is still up and running today, some bowling alleys were not as fortunate. In the Thibodaux area, there was Thunder Bowl, which went by a few names before ultimately shutting down.

Johnny Craig, the original owner, opened the bowling alley as Sugar Bowl in 1965. It was later changed to Gator Bowl by Allen and Cindy Parks around the late ’80s.

In the early 2000s, Buster Lagarde bought the bowling alley and changed the name to Thunder Bowl. In 2014, the bowling alley was then changed to Hickory Lanes. The bowling alley shut down officially in 2018.

What Happened?

David Boudreaux, a Thibodaux native, says “In a 12-lane house, you can bowl on lanes 1 and 2 and know what was going on at lanes 11 and 12. It was sort of a family atmosphere where everyone knew each other that would bowl there.”

Thunder Bowl was mainly built for the competitive scene of bowling, but once they started losing their older and more frequent customers , they began to notice a big loss in revenue. Thunder Bowl shut down in 2018, but the building still stands today on Hickory Street right off of St. Mary Street in Thibodaux.

Looking outside of the Houma-Thibodaux area, there is Steelwood Lanes which is located in Morgan City, Louisiana. Steelwood Lanes was built in 1961 and is still in business today. Unlike most other bowling alleys, Steelwood Lanes had a unique building layout. Dylan DuPree, the owner of Steelwood Lanes, explains,

“One thing about Steelwood is that we are one of the only Brunswick bowling centers in the United States that was built with a second story.”

This second story acts as a bar that allows guests to oversee the bowling lanes. The bar area is still there to this day, however, it is currently under renovation.

When it comes to bowling, Steelwood Lanes shows its competitive side by hosting tournaments with the Morgan City USBC Bowling Association. Their tournaments allow everyone to take part in the fun while fundraising for different causes. 

Back in October of 2022, they hosted a tournament called “Strike Out Breast Cancer, Spare a Pair” in support of Breast Cancer Awareness.

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