Billy’s Midway Arcade opened in Hawthorne on Memorial Day weekend.
William Smith, owner of Billy’s Midway Arcade in Hawthorne, perched atop vintage pinball machines that are available to play at the arcade.(Photo: Chris Monroe/Special to NorthJersey.com)
HAWTHORNE— The Wellema brothers picked up right where they left off in the 1980s, fussing over which one is the best pinball player.
The brothers found the right place to fuss— Billy’s Midway Arcade, a gallery of classic games now open in the two-story building at the southwest corner of Diamond Bridge and Lafayette avenues.
Bruce Wellema, 52 and David Wellema, 58 had their choice of 20 pinball machines. Another 60 games and air- and bubble-hockey tables line the walls of the arcade— a former jewelry store. The classic games include Donkey Kong, Frogger and Ms. Pac-Man.
“No one has to explain the instructions to us,” David Wellema, of Dania Beach, Florida, said as he jerked the joystick attached to the “Tron” game. “We know these games – these are throwbacks.”
The story continues below the gallery.
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On the opposite end of the arcade, Bruce was prepping for a match against his brother on one of its classic pinball machines, the oldest made in 1954.
“There’s no place to play pinball anymore,” Bruce Wellema, who lives in Prospect Park lamented.
He stepped back from the machine for a moment, stuck out his thumbs, and said, “I used to have the worst callouses. I’ve been playing pinball since 1972 – that’s a lot of quarters.”
At Billy’s Midway, there is no need to bring a pocketful of loose change.
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The arcade’s owner, 45-year-old William Smith rigged the machines with free-play buttons, so feeding them money is not necessary. Customers instead get charged for the time they spend in the arcade: $7 per half-hour, and $10 per hour. It costs $25 for an all-day pass.
Smith keeps track of customers’ time by giving them wristbands marked with barcodes, which are scanned when they leave the arcade.
Smith said wristbands were required to obey an antiquated borough ordinance still is on the books that limits the number of coin-operated arcade games in a place.
“Ms. Pac-Man and Donkey Kong hadn’t even come out yet, and they already had codes saying you couldn’t…