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Channel Your Inner Pinball Wizard At "Pincinnati"

Ann Thompson
Phoebe Smith plays at least one pinball game a day. With 57 of them at her house she doesn't have trouble finding one.

The blinking lights and bells of more than a hundred pinball machines fill a large conference room at the Eastgate Holiday Inn for the first "Pincinnati." For the price of admission the public can relive the past by playing these pinball machines, some of them rare and one of a kind.

The pinball machines belong to local collectors like Phoebe Smith who has 57 of them. She is hoping to consolidate them after an addition to her home. "My husband and I actually met playing pinball. He worked in a bowling alley," she says.

Doug Spata built one of his pinball machines from old parts and then re-themed it "Queen," a tribute to the band. He used custom software to create nine games on one machine, each accompanied by a different song.

This game is a one of a kind, built with old parts and re-themed by Doug Spata.

A group of men were standing around the game during set-up waiting to play it. Spata was not the high scorer saying, he made it challenging.

One of Pincinnati's organizers, Jerry Westerkamp, says a lot of pinball games have a deeper level that goes beyond hitting the lights. "I think most people don't realize that there is more than hitting random targets. Once they learn that, the game becomes a lot more interesting."

He was referring to the game "Iron Maiden," where Smith demonstrated. Getting a high score involves reaching certain goals that collectively spell out a name.

Organizers of this expo say pinball is in the middle of a huge renaissance and "Cincinnati is a uniquely active pinball mecca with a disproportionately high amount of pinball venues, leagues and tournaments."

Pincinnatihours are:

Friday 2:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m.

Saturday 10:00 a.m.-12:00 a.m.

Sunday 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.