By Veronica Coons
A business that was merely an idea on Jan. 8 will open its doors Friday, and in doing so bring with it the magic owners Sara and Jack Love remember from their youth. Both lifelong Great Bend residents have fond memories of getting together with friends at the skating rink on North Main Street throughout their teen years. With the trend of new and modern skating rinks starting to take hold on the west coast and moving across the country in the last two years, the couple are banking on the timing being right for their new venture in Great Bend.
And the buzz on the street is promising. With hundreds of likes on the Upnrollin Skatecenter facebook page before they’ve even opened, the Loves have already booked several private skating parties. Several visitors have popped in to see what’s going on inside the building at 2805 9th Street in Great Bend, where Fun Time Bingo used to be.
“I marked it on my calendar the day I had the idea,” Sara said. “Then, we were driving around and found this building for rent, and everything just fit into place.”
Sara isn’t exactly new to the skating rink business. Her grandfather, Harlan Parr, used to own the North Main skating rink. She laughs as she explains she, a well as her husband, can’t remember the name of the rink — it was just “the skating rink” to them. They aren’t alone. For those who remember the good times they had there, The Tribune couldn’t locate anyone who could remember the name in time for this article to go to print.
With five children, the Loves wanted to bring more family entertainment to Great Bend, they said.
“It’s going to bring back lots of good memories for parents, and hopefully create many new ones for their kids,” Jack said.
With family connections in the construction business and in the sound and lighting business, the couple is grateful for the help and support they’ve received from both family and friends. Some customers may recognize some of the seats where skaters change into skates. They are the original Great Bend High School seats, courtesy of Mark Ball at the Lifegiving Center, Sarah said. They also received the old gym lockers — which look great. In fact, with all the work done there, it looks like a whole new building.
“We had a lot of work to do, painting and pulling up carpet and tile and grinding away glue,” Jack said. “If I never see another grinder again, it will be too soon.”
The 50-by-100 foot rink has been outfitted with state of the art sound and lighting, including strobe lights and snow globes that pulse to the music. And the Loves can’t wait to bring back skating games like the “Limbo,” the “Low Rider,” and the dice game. Winners will receive a token for a free drink or candy bar, she said. They also plan to include old favorites like the “Hokey Pokey,” and the “Chicken Dance.”
On Wednesday, music was being loaded into the sound machine, Sarah said. The company is committed to making sure the experience is family friendly, which means they’ll keep a close ear on the music.
“If I think a song is inappropriate, it will only be played once in here, and then it will be deleted,” she said. She plans to include a mix of songs from the fifties up to modern day.
The couple is full of plans for the future, but in the beginning, they will be open on Friday and Saturday evenings. Soon, they will offer a Wednesday night skate session called “Holy Rollers” night, where they plan to play only Christian contemporary music. In the winter, they also hope to be open on Tuesday nights too. Private parties can also be booked for Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
By Friday afternoon, everything will be in place, and they’ll be ready to open for the first session from 6 to 8 p.m. While they have opening night jitters, one concern stands out above all others.
“We just hope we don’t run out of skates,” they said.