Roller skating is picking up speed at Winthrop’s outdoor rink
By Don Nelson
After a slow start, outdoor roller skating is beginning to gain momentum at the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink (WISR).
When ice-making equipment was installed at the rink last winter, a concrete surface was laid with the intention of opening the arena to roller skating in the summer. The rink opened for skating on June 8, and has been open Wednesday through Saturday since then including pickup-up roller hockey on Saturday mornings and theme nights on Fridays.
It took a couple of weeks for people to notice, but now skaters are finding their to WISR, rink manager Connor Walsh said this week.
“Last week it really picked up. We’ve had better turnout in the late evenings,” Walsh said.
“The people who’ve been here have had a blast,” Walsh added.
Skaters include a “good mix” of locals and visitors, Walsh said, including a group of 20-somethings who walked by the rink during a skating session and decided to turn it into an outing.
“We’ve had a lot of families coming out with multiple generations, including grandparents who haven’t skated for 30 or 40 years,” Walsh said. “A lot of them picked up right where they left off, like riding a bicycle.”
Quite a few regulars are part-time residents, Walsh said.
WISR hosted its first roller skating birthday party last weekend, Walsh said. The rink offers a birthday package that includes the meeting room in the WISR building.
Walsh said he also expects to see more interest in the Saturday morning roller hockey sessions. A group of players from Omak is coming over this weekend for more outdoor action. The group plays year-round, but usually in a school gymnasium.
“You don’t see outdoor roller skating in many places,” Walsh said.
The rink has been scheduling themed skating sessions from 8 – 10 p.m. on Friday nights: heroes and villains, Liberty Bell High School pride, and “red, white and blue” America night this Friday (July 1). Dress for the theme and you get a 50 percent reduction in the admission price.
Two other special events are on the schedule:
• Kids Skate Free Day next Wednesday (July 6), with free admission and skate rentals for kids 18 and under.
• Skate-A-Palooza on July 9, a late night skating party from 9 – 11 p.m. for kids ages 13 – 18. The event will include lights, music, glow sticks and glow-in-the-dark wrist bands, root beer floats, pizza, ping pong and more. Admission is $5, which includes skate rental.
The majority of visitors are renting skates, Walsh said — the rink has sizes for kids up to adults with fairly large feet, he said.
“A surprising number of people bringing their own skates,” Walsh said, including entire families who bought new skates for the summer sessions.
The rink regular hours are from 4-8 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and from 4 – 10 p.m. on Fridays. The cost for each session is $4 for kids and $6 for adults. All children 5 and under, as well as all fourth-graders from the 2015 – 16 school year who live in Okanogan County, receive free admissions and skate rentals. Season and group passes are also available.
Saturday morning drop-in roller hockey is from 7 – 9 a.m.; the cost is $6.
Skates can be rented for $2. WISR’s roller skating equipment is brand new. The rink received $6,450 from Winthrop Kiwanis through the “Fund a Dream” project during the Bite of the Methow. The money was used to buy 100 pairs of roller skates and 20 sets of protective pads. Arm, knee and wrist pads are available as well as helmets, all for free.
For more information, call 996-4199, or visit www.winthropicerink.com.