DALLAS TWP. — Rollaway Skating Rink has rolled through generations of patrons and still provides affordable four-wheeling fun to parents and children.
After 40 years, the wooden 80-by-180-foot rink still shines. The recently repaired original 1970s-era disco lights gleam and cast a rainbow of colors across the floor, enticing the customers of all ages to strap on a pair of skates and accept the challenge of completing a lap.
Retro or not, roller skating has forged its way into the 21st century, but not without its bumps and bruises. Ted and Nick Tsioles, the owners of Rollaway Skating Rink, noticed the sport is appealing more to adults than children these days.
“The business has changed,” Ted Tsioles said. “It (attendance) use to be 60 percent kids and 40 percent adults. Now it is more like 60 percent adults and 40 percent kids.”
When the brothers bought the roller skating rink from the original owners, Anthony and Helen Bonomo, in 1986, it was a hot spot for families and teens kept the business open into the night.
Jive skaters use to monopolize the rink, groovin’ to tunes played via records, cassettes and 8-track tapes.
But times have changed, Ted said.
Modern technology and an abundance of sporting activities are vying for the attention of today’s teens, Ted said. So the brothers evolved their business from a teen weekend hangout spot to a more family-friendly environment with longer daytime hours and fewer night hours.
“We are open from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday; 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays,” he said.
They also incorporated a Tot Spot, which is an indoor playground geared for children 3 years old and younger, featuring plastic slides and pushcarts. The Tot Spot allows the youngest siblings space to play while older brothers and sisters skate around the rink, Ted said.
“Parents love it,” Ted’s wife, Michele, said. “We are the only roller skating rink in the area that will allow parents to walk with a child (on skates) on the rink. They (parents) seem to really appreciate that.”
By keeping admission fees low, the brothers make the facility accessible to all households.
“We charge $4 admission and $2 skate rental fee,” Ted said. “We have about 300 pairs of rental skates in 17 different sizes.”
Rollaway also accommodates birthday parties, daycare centers, church groups and even allows a local field hockey team to practice on the floor.
“They have to tape up their (hockey) sticks, so the floor does not get marked up,” Michele said.
The facility, built in 1976 by the Bonomos, has had regular renovations.
In March, the long missing sparkle was put back into the rink when two original disco lights were repaired.
The lights were inoperable for several months until Michele posted on Facebook they were having trouble finding someone qualified to repair the lights. An electrician familiar with the dated lighting fixtures reached out to the family.
Today, not only is the retro-glam vibe restored to the rink but a new lighting system featuring a reflective ball with colored strip lights has been added.
Another planned update will involve cleaning and dyeing a 22-by-200-foot swath of heavy duty carpeting later in April, Ted said.
“To replace the carpet, we were told it would cost nearly $80,000,” Ted said. “We plan one or two renovations every year so we can keep the costs down. We are a family-run business for families.”