My family moved from the west bank of New Orleans to Mandeville in 1989 in pursuit of better educational options for my brother, Daniel, who had special needs. I had just turned 6 when we made the move, so I don’t even remember what life was like before Mandeville. This place was my childhood. Growing up here, there wasn’t always a ton to do, but there were a handful of great venues that I truly lament not having for my own children. If I had more of an entrepreneurial spirit, I’d open these things myself, but, in the hopes somebody with more ambition hears my plea, I present to you: 5 things We Had in Mandeville and Need Back.
Putt-Putt Golf and Games
Located on the West Approach, this was THE PLACE to be on the weekends when I was 13-16 years old. And for good reason. It offered, as the name implies, putt putt and arcade games, and also batting cages, laser tag and go-carts. As a young teen, my parents would drop me off to meet friends for a night of good, clean fun (laced with a little drama and probably some cattiness because, you know, 13 year old girls. . . ) . We’d play a round of golf and then head inside to blow our babysitting money on several rounds of Mortal Kombat and air hockey. As a driving teenager, I’d meet dates at the batting cages to try to
emasculate impress them with my hitting prowess. I miss this place something fierce. I’d have my kids here all the time if it still existed and would definitely try to show them up impress them with my hitting prowess all over again.
Located in a shopping center on Hwy 22, Sillyville was a larger, more upscale McDonald’s play place. It had a ball pit, tube maze and myriad games. I remember heading to Sillyville for many a birthday party. If we had one of these today, you’d bet I’d have my youngest son there several weekends a month. Would I probably complain about the germs and the overpriced snacks? Yes. Would we still host our own kids’ parties there? Without a doubt.
Located on 190 just past 1-10 overpass, this rip-off Chuck E. Cheese was technically in Covington. I remember being dropped off here when I was in 4th or 5th grade and feeling like hot sh*t because my parents gave me $5 to order cheese sticks. I don’t remember too many other details, but there were animatronic animals and, not surprisingly, pizza. I’d gleefully drop my 5th grader off here and give him $5 for cheese sticks so that that he could tell me cheese sticks are now $15 and call me boomer.
On Florida Street, just across from Saia’s, we had a Dairy Queen. How I miss this Dairy Queen. The Blizzards, the chicken strips, the bizarre little wooden play place- I miss it all! My mom likes to tell the story of going to this Dairy Queen, ordering an ice cream cone and being told, without an ounce of humor or understanding of the irony on the part of the employee, that they were out of ice cream. So we knew the closure was coming. If a Dairy Queen employee can tell you with a straight face that they’re out of ice cream, you know there’s not much hope for the future. But what I wouldn’t give for a DQ franchisee who is fully committed to stocking their ice cream reserves to move into town! I’d be their first customer.
I know it was located in Covington–right by Covington High–but I can’t help including it on the list. This place was such a staple for all local kids and it really defined parts of my childhood. I attended (and had) more birthday parties here than I can count. I can feel the brown shag carpet under my feet AND on my hands because, yes, the walls were carpeted, too. I remember finishing a race, flying to the corner opening, grabbing hold of the carpeted wall and skid-skating my way to the bathroom where the toilets were always clogged. Always. Inexplicably. Clogged. But I don’t care! I’ll take the clogged toilets. I need to go back now that I have a significant other so that I can show the kids what a “couples skate” should look like. Roller Kingdom, you are greatly missed.
I’m sure there are a few things I’m forgetting. (Java Grotto is another place that comes to mind. Emo coffee house directly on the lakefront? Yes, please.) It just seems like there used to be more things here despite the huge population surge of the last decades, or maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic lately. Either way, these are some venues I truly think could thrive here, so if you’re looking for a new start-up, feel free to call me and I’ll tell you all about how to add shag carpeting to walls so that it really drives customers to you.
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