If you go
If you go
WENATCHEE — Barbara D’Andrea met her first husband at a roller skating rink. They called it quits years ago, but she’s still rolling on the rink and loving every minute of it.
“I’m a roller skater right down to my bones,” said the 63-year-old grandmother, who pulled off some pretty fancy skating moves Monday. “I’ve been skating most of my life. I love it. I dream it.”
Lucky for her that last weekend Town Toyota Center kicked off a month of roller skating in its main arena for what’s perhaps Wenatchee’s first indoor rink in more than two decades. “I plan to be here every day,” said D’Andrea.
Town Toyota Center kicked off its roller skating program Friday night with a 40-skater parade from Hooked on Toys on Wenatchee Avenue to the concrete rink — it’s the Wenatchee Wild’s hockey rink minus the ice — near Walla Walla Point Park. On Saturday night, the first of six theme nights got underway with a ‘70s disco party. Aloha Night, Superhero Night and others will follow.
“We think the demand for roller skating is here,” said Mark Miller, the center’s general manager. “We get asked all the time if we’d consider a roller rink. A Roller Derby match two years ago drew 2,500 fans. Maintenance on the ice rink means we have a nice concrete floor for a month. And public skating hasn’t been available here for — how long? Maybe 21 years?”
Yep. Local roller skaters haven’t glided inside an official rink here since 1992, when the 44-year-old, 18,000-square-foot Wenatchee Roller Skating Center at 1905 N. Wenatchee Ave. was demolished to make way for a hotel.
“Oh my gosh, we had some good times there,” said Jackie Babst, 59, of East Wenatchee, who on Monday escorted to the arena’s rink a batch of younger relatives, some roller skating for the very first time. “I don’t think I’ve actually roller skated in Wenatchee since that old rink closed.”
She and her daughter, Michelle Gallaher, 36, said that just minutes earlier they’d been talking about all they fun they had at the old rink. “We rode what we called the boogie bus,” laughed Gallaher. “We rode it directly from school straight to the rink, where they had all kinds of activities to keep us excited to be there.”
Babst and Gallaher remembered the Chicken Dance and Limbo contests performed on roller skates. “There was also some kind of machine,” said Gallaher, “that spit out dollar bills. THAT kept us interested.”
Gallaher’s daughter, Libby, and her cousin Layni Schnutzler, both 10, donned skates for the very first time Monday, and were gliding around like they’d done it all their lives. “This is fun,” said Libby, who whooshed through a curve and expertly pushed off the rail at impressive speed. “Bye!” she called back to observers.
Eileen Dickey, of East Wenatchee, and her three kids had come to Town Toyota Center for ice skating but found the chilled rink closed for maintenance. So they put on roller skates instead.
Town Toyota Center bought 250 pairs of skates and rents them at $2 a pop.
“My kids ice skate and rollerblade,” said the 40-year-old mom, “but this is their first time to roller skate. I told them this is what we did before rollerblades were invented. You know, back in the dark ages.”
Her son, Caden, 14, said roller skating was a little more difficult than rollerblading — turning and staying balanced, for instance — but that he found it fun and will return with the family for more roller rink action.
“Roller skating here brings me back a couple of decades,” said D’Andrea. “Being out there skating — it makes me feel 20 years younger.”
She laughed. “I don’t look 20 years younger, but I feel it.”