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January 13, 2014

The Pinball Wizard is one of '603 Reasons' N.H. is special

Pelham arcade brings pleasure to area pinball fans

PELHAM — There are “603 Reasons” people say New Hampshire is special, but only one that lets them combine hours of Pac-Man and Skeeball with images of Star Trek, Fenway Park and the orchestral sounds that are the neighborhood arcade.

Step inside The Pinball Wizard on Bridge Street and listen to the ding, ding, ding that comes with a metal ball rocketing around a glass-enclosed box, as points accumulate on a mechanical scoreboard.

“Usually Friday evening and all day Saturday and Sunday, this place is crazy,” said owner Sarah St. John, showing off the 337 games that occupy the arcade.

St. John opened the business three years ago to share her collection of arcade games and never expected the crowd who followed.

“We have over 1,200 people through the doors on a weekend,” she said.

Some players come every day.

Jeff LaPointe of Manchester is at The Pinball Wizard on a weekday afternoon playing the pinball version of Monopoly and other games.

“Too often,” is how much he admits to visiting the place, as frequently as a couple of times a week.

He’s admiring the newest arrival, Star Trek.

“Star Trek is amazing,” LaPoint said. “Bright, fast, loud.”

He’s not surprised people say this arcade makes New Hampshire special.

“It’s always different,” LaPointe said of pinball. “The board can change.”

St. John paused to consider what makes a good pinball player.

“I think it’s determination, skill and love of the game,” she said.

David Kubasiak of Manchester is in the house.

“Someone who understands physics and geometry,” would be attracted to pinball, he said.

“Someone who can see the shots before taking them,” Kubasiak said.

This is a place where kids and parents keep coming back.

“Parents come with their kids. Then the parent will come back the next week,” St. John said. “It’s so neat to watch parents show the next generation, their children, what they played as kids.”

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