It was me who suggested that Maggie and her friend Emma might enjoy rollerskating at the Lloyd Center, having learned that the Rose City Rollers were offering skate sessions in the open-air and covered garage. But then after the girls were excited about the idea, I had reservations. Would it be easy to roller skate there, or would it be harder in a garage (without the trusty handrail for support)? What about falling on the concrete? What were the COVID precautions? But, as I’ve learned over the years, you can’t suggest a fun activity and then back out. We bought our tickets for a two-hour session on Sunday afternoon.
We entered through the NE Halsey Street entrance, and as we pulled in, a Rose City Rollers staff member gave us a large blue IKEA bag of supplies in exchange for my driver’s license. When we bought tickets, we filled out a form with gear needs and sizes so that it would be ready when we arrived. Pro tip: After you receive your gear, pull in on the first floor to make sure everything fits. The Rose City Rollers’ Skatemobile is parked outside with more sizes, but if you check while you are on the first floor (before you head up two levels), you don’t have far to go if you need to make a swap.
Floor 2a of the garage is not adjacent to any stores, so it is a dedicated spot for skating. A large section of the garage floor is cordoned off with yellow tape, with parking for the attendees nearby. After the girls put on their skates, helmets, elbow pads, knee pads and wrist guards, they headed out. Each session has a limit of 50 skaters, and there is more than enough room to spread out. In fact, while the garage lacks the charm of the historic Oaks Park skating rink, there was far more room at the garage. It was a huge space. In that way, skating seemed safer — from a COVID perspective, but also because skaters were less likely to collide into or fall on other skaters. The skaters still followed the traditional circle rotation (for the most part). And Maggie and Emma didn’t seem to miss the handrail at all!
The skaters were a mixed group of adults, teenagers and kids. We saw a preschooler learning with his dad, and a mom on skates pushing a toddler in a stroller. There were some parents walking with younger skaters (participants can pay for a ticket to walk around with a skater for a reduced rate, but they still need a ticket). There were also rainbow-costumed expert skaters circling the space. Speakers blasted a mix of dance music from the 90s to today, adding to the festive spirit. Staff members and volunteers (identifiable in yellow t-shirts) skated around, too, and I saw them stop to give a few tips to new skaters. Many people were snapping photos, documenting their presence at the parking-garage-turned-rollerskating-rink. Mask-wearing seemed to be at 100%.
Both girls asked to go again another time, and I was happy to hear it. This time, we parents watched from the sidelines, and if that is the plan next time, I would bring a camping chair and maybe a blanket. Layers are a good idea — Maggie was too warm in her jacket once skating, and since I was just standing and chatting, I was cold.
So despite my initial worries, rollerskating was a hit. It was a unique and fun experience, good exercise, and a chance to support local nonprofit Rose City Rollers. Maybe some future rollers will remember getting their start at the Lloyd Center garage.
If You Go
Tickets range from $10 – $20 and there are special deals on pricing if needed.