Lakewood Y to Host Roller Skating as Evans Tribute | News, Sports, Jobs
LAKEWOOD — Roller skating is set to make a local comeback as part of a collaboration between the Lakewood YMCA, Honest John’s and Jack Evans, son of the owner of the former Evans Skateland Roller Rink.
The first Family Night Roller Skating event is scheduled for May 7 from 6-9 p.m. at 183 E. Fairmount Ave.
Lakewood YMCA branch manager Tom Anderson said he got the idea from Lakewood YMCA employee Crystal Rodreguez. He said he caught her eye on the idea of skate parties, and he took the ball and ran with it – or rather rolled with it.
“This time it’s not my idea” Anderson said. “I started thinking about roller skating when I was young. In the 70s there was Evan’s Skateland, there was Russell Roller Rink and Warren Roller Rink, there was Gold Star and there was one in Dunkirk There were hundreds of people (at Evans) There aren’t many family events anymore.
Anderson said he partnered with Evans to learn the ropes.
“I called Jack and asked how many pairs of skates you had, and he said 600.” he said. “I said we’re not doing it – we’ll have 60.”
Anderson bought new skates in different sizes, black lights and a spotlight for upcoming skate parties. Although the inaugural event is the only one planned at the moment, he said he hopes to organize a skate party every month. Anderson said he also plans to allow skating for day camps and for birthday parties held at the facility. Skating will take place in the Lakewood Y gymnasium.
The idea behind the event is to get families out and active together in a fun way, Anderson said, but also to honor the legacy of Evan’s Skateland – located in Celoron and destroyed in a fire. in October 1976.
Jack Evans was at the rink the night of the fire.
“You weren’t allowed to smoke – and we had 300 kids there,” he said. “We had a locker room and there were hooks that were about three meters high. There were 300 winter coats in there. There was a door and you were not allowed to enter it. Someone crawled under the door and they were smoking. My dad walked into the locker room and this kid put the cigarette in a coat pocket. If there were 300 adults in there, they would be dead because the kids were used to fire drills at school. They just turned on the microphone and said go to the back of the rink.
Evans said he and his father tried to put out the fire with fire extinguishers.
“It just made it go faster because it pushed oxygen into it – synthetics burn very fast,” he said. “I went to the back of the rink and helped people out and my dad was at the front of the rink helping people out. We got the 300 kids out of there. What happened is that the fire went through the ceiling of the locker room. The rest of the ceiling was a drop ceiling, so it burned.
He added, “And there was dust on the ceiling. When the dust rolls, it’s like gunpowder. So I’m at the end of the rink to see if everyone was out, and it exploded at the other end — the dust that was above the ceiling and the ceiling fell like a blanket. He came down and I could see he was rolling towards me.
Evans said the pressure from the blast knocked him out the door and into the middle of the parking lot. At the same time, her father held his one-year-old daughter as he escorted her to safety. Before the fire, her daughter was in a crib near the back of the rink.
“My wife passed the baby through the window to my father and he waited for her to come out, then he came out behind her,” he said. “He ended up burning his hair on the back of his head. That’s how close it was.
Evans said the roller rink contained antiques and memorabilia such as photos of Lucille Ball and other roller skating related items which were all lost in the fire. Evans said about two years later, Evans reopened at their new location, which was open for skating until the early 2000s.
Anderson had many fond memories of Evans Skateland, like many in the Jamestown area, and he wants to honor those times and those memories while introducing new generations to roller skating.
“I want to honor these guys”, he said. “Also, I called the guys I bought the skates from and he was like, ‘The skating is really coming back. “”
“My dad used to say, ‘When you start seeing skating commercials on TV, the skating comes back'” said Evans. “I’ve seen quite a few commercials with people skating.”
Anderson said they will have black lights at the event, a live DJ, concessions, and bring back some of Evans’ old skating games, such as four corners, hokey pokey, and bird dance. He asks those interested to call ahead and register as there are a limited number of skates available. Tickets are $8 for members and $10 for non-members. Participants can also bring their own skates.
For more information or to register, call 716-763-0303 or stop by the Lakewood Welcome Center.