Rollerama Skating Center opened in October. June 6, 1972. Last Thursday, owners, employees and community members celebrated the company’s 50th anniversary.
“It’s crazy. A lot of businesses can’t handle that much, let alone being shut down because of COVID,” said owner Jennifer Decator. “It’s just, we thank the Brighton community for being here and keeping it going. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for our customers.”
Prices have dropped from $12 admission and $5 skate rentals to $1.25 admission and 50 cents skate rentals, the same prices it was when it opened in 1972.
Over the course of 50 years, this business has experienced many owners. About 10 years ago, Jennifer Decator and her husband Dave and Mike Hamade bought the skating center and other locations after the company went bankrupt.
Aside from being closed for eight months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the location has remained open.
“We have a multigenerational family here,” Jennifer Dector said.
Additionally, there have been countless improvements and updates over the past 10 years, with more to come.
“We remodeled the entire facility. It’s always a work in progress, but we started from the beginning, so it’s like 2013,” Jennifer Dector said. “It’s 80 x 160, it’s still the original hardwood maple floor, we just painted it.”
As for why they’ve stayed open over the years, she said she attributes it to a hobby of roller skating and other attractions.
“You pretty much have to have more than one attraction on the rink these days,” says Jennifer Dector.
In 2014, other attractions such as play areas and bumper cars were added.
For many, the Rollerama Skating Center feels like a second home. Kelly Brogan has been coaching roller skating figure skating for the past six or seven years and has competed for 11 years before that, more than two years for Team USA.
“I started skating here when I was six. I’ve been skating here for 18 years,” Brogan said.
Others who owe much to the center are Rollerama Skating Center employee Joshua Brian, who has been with the institution for the past six years but started playing hockey at the center at age 10.
“This place means a lot to me. It’s a big part of half my life. It’s cool for me to celebrate 50 years,” Brian said.
The Fischer family moved to the US in 2012 with a second home in mind. Their father, Peter Fischer, is Swiss and their mother, Anja Jacob Fischer, is German.
Peter Fischer said roller skating was popular in Europe and the couple wanted to teach their children Caden and Caitlyn Fischer, but there aren’t any indoor ice rinks in Europe.
When they both came to America, they started going to the Rollerama Skating Center. Siblings compete individually and in pairs in single-row figure skating.
“We lived 50 years and we hope to live another 50 years,” Hamad said. “For what we went through in the 2008 (economic) crash and the recent pandemic, it’s amazing that we survived.”