Casey He/The Daily Northwestern
January 4, 2023
Lights, music and roller skates returned to the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center on Friday, bringing the sport back to the community center after more than two years.
The community center transformed its gym into a red-and-blue roller skate rink, complete with laser lights. A lively playlist of songs from artists like Justin Bieber, Dua Lipa and The Weeknd greeted attendees as they arrived.
Briana Jenkins, the assistant program coordinator at Fleetwood-Jourdain, said the center used to host roller skating events every weekend. But after the center’s gym underwent renovations in early 2020, roller skating halted to protect the new flooring. The center brought in a portable rink for the Friday event.
“Skating is something that the community has definitely been talking about ever since we took it away,” Jenkins said. “Trying to figure out when that could come back was something that we’ve always kept in the back of our mind.”
The center split Roller Skating Day into two halves: one for families and the other for individuals ages 18 and older. The community center also provided cards and other board games for those who preferred to sit down rather than skate.
Kesia King, who grew up in Evanston, said she’s been skating since she was a child. This was her first time skating at the community center rink.
“I think it’s always good to have stuff in the community that brings out different crowds of people,” King said. “What I really liked is that they had it as a family day so the parents and the kids could come together.”
Skaters of all skill levels glided around the rink and danced to the music. Parents accompanied many of the children, watching from the side or skating alongside.
After seeing a flyer for the event online, Evanston resident Tanazia Shields brought her 4-year-old daughter to roller skate for the first time.
“It’s great for not just adults but for the kids to have something to do. It’s getting cold outside, so it’s not too much to do on the outside,” Shields said. “It’s nice to come to the community center where they get to interact with more kids.”
To set up the skating day, Jenkins said she and other Fleetwood-Jourdain staff planned for roughly two months. The community center contracted an outside company to set up the rink and provide rental roller skates.
Looking forward, Jenkins said the center is planning to invest in similar equipment so it can host roller skating events more regularly.
“Being able to bring skating back today has definitely been an amazing thing,” Jenkins said. “We got a lot of feedback and excitement from the community even though it’s for one day right now, and we are in talks right now about having skating a little more than one day out of the year.”
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