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Thank You For Playing…Final Day at Laser One

Some arenas are particularly memorable and Laser One in Wantage, NJ is one that was definitely very special. I made several trips to visit them in recent years for Darklight games, tournaments and even a Tag 4 A Cause night. The wonderful experiences I had there thanks to Jim Mainardi, his family and staff are what made it important to me to make one last visit to be present for their final day of operations on April 2nd.

The most unfortunate thing about this amazing arena closing is that it was the result of a lost lease, not anything to do with the business itself. In fact, I have heard from many people that it was a valued and significant establishment in the community and that was particularly evident by the number of people who flooded the place on the final day to say their farewell.

I had to revise my travel plans in order to attend. It worked out for me to be on a direct flight from LAX to Philadelphia and then I rented a car to drive up to New Jersey in order to get there. It was absolutely worth the effort! And I wasn’t the only one who traveled across a good chunk of the country in order to attend.

When I arrived I wanted to take a selfie at the entrance. While doing so I heard a familiar voice call over to me and offer to take the photo.

It was Chris (aka Arcturus) who had driven in from Missouri because this was important to him too. He joined me for a few final games of Darklight.

It was a little surreal trying to take in every memory of this arena.

This is not an experience I can have just anywhere because Darklight does not have as large a presence in the U.S. as many of the other laser tag manufacturers. However, it really says something that Laser One has been using this same equipment for their entire 16 years of operation.

So I enjoyed every opportunity to tag the GEMs.

And tagging the blob lights on the other team’s packs always results with a little “clink” sound.

Something occurred to me for the very first time during the game. It’s interesting that the noise you hear when you successfully tag a player sounds a bit like the clink of a coin and it earns you credits to “spend” at the GEMs…essentially Darklight is a game that allows you to go “shopping” in the arena. No wonder I love it, lol!

Speaking of shopping, how did I not know that they sold these awesome T-shirts? You know how much I love my tag swag!

I had just purchased my souvenirs when Jim arrived and connected me with a particularly special memento to add to my collection of packs and artifacts of laser tag history.

Before the night was over, we were joined by Devin (aka StormTaker) for a reunion of a few of us from the Pyrus Uprising team.

It has been fun to play with these guys in competitive/social tournaments where we got to experience a wider variety of games. I was glad to be able to share with Jim how enjoyable these events were for the players.

He must have known how much Laser One meant to everyone based on the outpouring of comments and excellent attendance on this final day. The place was packed! But just in case, let’s hear from a few regular players what they will remember about Laser One.

We will take so many memories with us. How many people have enjoyed a casual game or a special party surrounded by the beautiful murals at Laser One?

How many people who played here now have kids who got to enjoy the experience as well? How many days were made brighter for having an escape to some fun for a couple of hours here or there? Homegrown laser tag arenas like Laser One are the kind of places that make me love laser tag. We are all the better for having had the experience. Thank you for the memories!

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