I’ll always have fond memories of gliding down the smooth, wooden floor at the roller rink when I was a kid. It was the early 1960s and I can picture slipping and sliding into the snack bar to order the french fries. There were plenty of tumbles to the floor, spurring giggles and bruised knees. And there were awkward moments of bumping into girls from school. (That was scary.)
I would bet that many baby boomers have similar memories and may think of roller skating as a retro or nostalgic experience. Yet all you need to do is visit World of Wheels Skate Center in downtown Superior to see that this family activity is alive and well and as popular as ever.
Except for some using inline skates, roller skating hasn’t changed all that much: Kids seem to range from highly confident to those who struggle to keep their balance, some holding tight onto mom’s arm.
The most popular skating time comes when the weather is worst.
“Winter is our bread and butter,” says World of Wheels owner Steve Grapentin, from Zimmerman, Minnesota. The place averages 150 skaters winter Saturdays, although seeing 250 is not uncommon. Special events include the Wednesday night skate for 18 and older.
Bob and Gerry Wright opened World of Wheels in 1975, and their children sold it to Steve in April 2008. He remodeled it with improvements that include a wider snack bar area, new carpeting and new lighting.
“We have lots of birthday parties,” says Steve, who hosts 25 to 30 a week in winter. The pizza party package runs $89.95 for up to eight admissions and skate rentals, two large pizzas, eight beef hot dogs, popcorn, two pitchers of soda pop, two tables, a free pass for each guest’s next visit and a T-shirt for the honoree (or the hot dog package is an option at $84.95.)
On a busy Saturday, Jenny Stensland of Solon Springs rolled by with her son, Logan, celebrating his 11th birthday. Donna Glaser, who left Duluth 18 years ago, was in the Twin Ports visiting from Shawnee, Kansas, with her kids, Alex and Madison.
“It’s for the kids to have fun,” Donna says as the three held hands and gently rolled onto the floor of the skate center.
World of Wheels Skate Center, 1218 Oakes Ave., Superior. 715-392-1031, wowsk8.us.