Still Rolling After 200 Years

Yes, it was 1819 when roller skates officially came to be, paving the way for lots of bruised body parts, spilled drinks at drive-in burger joints and romantic 14-year-old nights under a disco ball at the local skating rink.

The Dutch are credited with starting this phenomenon, wanting to expand their winter passion for ice skating to the warm weather months. People were noted to roll around on some sorts of contraptions as early as 1720, but it was in France in 1819 when a Monsieur Petitbled filed a patent for a design most similar to what we consider in-line skates of the 21st century.

Lincoln, Nebraska is home to the National Museum of Roller Skating, which is said to have the world’s largest collection of roller skates and roller-skating memorabilia. It’s affiliated with the Roller Skating Association International, which is located in Indianapolis.

Historic Rinks

Built in 1906, the roller rink at the Oaks Amusement Park in Portland, Oregon is not only the oldest continuously operating roller rink in the U.S., it’s the only roller rink in the U.S. with a live organist playing a pipe organ. The rink measures 100 feet wide by 200 feet long, making it one of the largest skating rinks in the country, but serious skaters come for the waves or bumps in the floor that create a lift as you roll along.

Built in 1911, the Mentor Skateland is just steps from the shore of Lake Erie and an icon of fun in this community for generations. The owner, Lou Pannuzio, has coached numerous national and world champions and has been inducted into the Roller Sports Hall of Fame. Sign up for a lesson!

Built in 1929 as an arena for horse shows, the Roller Garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota became a tennis and skating facility in 1939. The Sahly family has owned it since 1969. A portion of an episode of the Mary Tyler Moore Show was filmed here in 1973.

At the Highest Altitude

At almost 8,000 feet of sea level, Snow Mountain Ranch, Colorado – and we know it’s the nation’s highest too Snow Mountain Ranch, part of YMCA of the Rockies in Granby, Colorado. It’s a free activity for overnight guests. The Kiva Center & roller rink was completed in the summer of 1974.  The wood floors are original.

Above a Post Office

Topsail Island, a barrier island about 30 miles north of Wilmington, North Carolina, is home to a roller rink located above the city of Topsail Beach Post Office. The unusual location is to protect the wooden floors from storm surges during hurricane season.

The Topsail Beach Skating Rink is open seven nights a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day, using the original 45 RPM record player that Doris Jenkins and her husband installed when they opened the business in 1964. Now 80-years-old, Doris Jenkins still laces up a pair of skates and out moves everyone on the floor.

In a Castle

A number of the buildings in Ida Grove, Iowa, are castles, thanks to a local construction magnate who simply loved the design. For his own birthday in 1982, he built a castle big enough to host his party and when it was over, gave the elaborately designed building to the American Legion that operates it a skating rink and special events venue. The Ida Grove Skate Palace carries the theme inside. Skating is reserved for the winter months unless otherwise noted on its Facebook page.

In the Movies

Wilmington, North Carolina has been nicknamed “Hollywood of the East,” so it’s only natural that the city’s colorful Jelly Beans Family Skate Center has made an appearance on the big screen. Provinces of Night, starring Hillary Duff, was filmed here, as well a 2013 episode of East Bound and Down where Marilyn Manson appeared as a roller skating waiter, sans goth make-up. And to demonstrate the universal appeal of roller skating, Christian music artist Leslie Woods shot her music video Clueless on skates here.

On Television

In the seventh season of The Office, Dwight, Andy and Darryl visited a roller rink in the middle of the day to meet women. It didn’t work out well, but those scenes were filmed at Northridge Skateland, a presence in the Los Angeles area for more than 60 years. Through the years, TV shows such as the Mod Squad, Six Million Dollar Man and Candid Camera have been shot here. More recently, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Parks and Recreation, and a Jay Z video have used the skating rink as a backdrop. Sure, you can find those online, but go skate and watch these clips and more via seven huge movie screens that are a part of the fun atmosphere.

Plan your roller skating road trip –– get started by visiting your AAA Trip Planner.

(Go Magazine January/February 2019)

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