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One of the first places my brother took me to when I visited him in Ann Arbor for the first time was Pinball Pete’s. After my high school self had grown bored of the campus tour and of seeing all the libraries and construction sites, Shyam, always about 10 feet ahead of me and my parents, strode onto South University Avenue and took us into a building with a pink sign above the entrance. 

The harsh summer sunlight faded as we descended into a dark room lit by neon arcade cabinets. Retro sound effects of guitars and a kart-racing Italian plumber roared out of the speakers, and pinball machines lined the perimeter of the room, clicks of flippers giving rhythm to the music. I couldn’t help but grin after entering Pinball Pete’s, and even now, five years after that first trip to the University of Michigan, a short visit to the arcade provides a burst of excitement to my day.

Pinball Pete’s is one of the few places where, with just a half-hour and a couple George Washington’s, you can run wild and be a kid again. It’s an alcove of entertainment with immense variety between all of its activities. It’s a place to create memories of getting schooled by your dad at Skeeball and your brother at air hockey. Of stomping your feet with your girlfriend on the “Dance Dance Revolution” pad and, after losing the game within seconds, competing to see who can hit more lights on the “Speed of Light” cabinet. Of playing a round of Star Wars Pinball that lasts for nearly 20 minutes and shoving four more quarters in right before the “Game Over” timer runs out.

Every journey to the arcade ends the same way for me. I walk up to the prize counter with friends and family and place a measly pile of tickets onto the glass display. “22 tickets,” the gentleman says after counting them. Seeing us eye the section of 25 ticket prizes, he rounds up our winnings and we walk away, smug with a single packet of Smarties in our hands, eager to return for more.

Daily Staff Reporter Arjun Thakkar can be reached at