From the street the building appears to be little more than a warehouse: concrete block structure, flat roof, a patched parking lot that has stood the test of time. The only indication life happens inside is the diner-style sign perched on top telling passersby of its contents—Skate World Roller Rink.
Inside the magic begins. For more than forty years the building has served parents and children as a place to hang out, rent four little wheels attached to a boot, and wobble around the brightly lit skating area. Children of all ages try out their skills skating in an oval pattern, grabbing the wall for security, and ungracefully plopping to the floor when they lose their balance. More experienced skaters occupy the middle, performing figure eights and backward glides with the precision of an ice dancer.
My children loved the rink when they were young. Still frequent it as adults. The gaudy, red carpet, black tables, and the glittery globe hanging from the ceiling all evoke memories of good times in a safe place where they could just be kids. The snack bar is reminiscent of a movie theater venue with popcorn, candy, and hot dogs on the menu. The birthday party rooms have hosted more celebrations than an ice cream parlor.
But Skate World’s future is uncertain. The original owners have passed away and the trust under which the rink has operated the past few years has expired. One woman has come forward to buy and operate the enterprise for future generations of children, but her funding has failed to materialize. The rink is headed to the seller’s market again.
Skate World needs an investor or two. Someone with a heart for children who knows the value of a safe haven for kids, who understands there’s more to life than video games or electronic devices, and who wants to see the community’s youth able to access fun at a reasonable price. Without that someone, the building will become nothing more than a concrete warehouse. For our community, that would be a great loss.
Interested parties may contact Debbie Berg, c/o Skate World, 3188 Gateway Loop, Springfield, OR 97477