Celebrating 40 years of Family Entertainment
West Park Skate Center is celebrating 40 years of family entertainment, roller skating.
Beginning in 1976, West Park Skate celebrated ribbon cutting on October 1st with the then current State Senator Gene Snowden, Mayor Maurice Robbins, family and friends and other community leaders. Richard & Maureen Ness, their 5 children, Kathy, Jeff, Gregg, Laurie and Tom, along with Richard’s sister and brother-in-law, Jane and Keith Steele and their 5 children, Janet, Gary, Cindy, Mary Ellen and Connie operated the skating center for the first 7 years.
Competition teams were added in Speed Skating, Figures and Artistic Dance Skating. The club had over 50 skaters and competed in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana.
Schools from Huntington, Wabash, Whitley and Wells County had school skating parties throughout the school year. Churches, Youth Groups, Boy/Girl Scouts and other community groups enjoyed the variety of music, costume characters and fellowship skating parties provided as well. Skating down Jefferson Street in the Huntington Heritage Days Parade and other community parades was a highlight of the summer months for many.
Beginning in 1977, West Park Skate Center began “Disco Dances” every Saturday night. This was the highlight of the weekend with young adults coming from as far away as Ball State, Taylor University, Kokomo, Marion, Wabash, Fort Wayne, Tri-State, and even Ohio. Back then, the usual attire was dressy and flashy with the girls wearing dresses and the guys wearing dress slacks and sparkly dress shirts. The dances averaged over 650 people every Saturday. We all remember “Disco Harry”!
In 1986, Kathy Elmore purchased the skating center from her Father, and quickly added air conditioning and additional programming; including Birthday parties, roller hockey and group skating lessons. Beginning with Crestview Middle School and eventually all of the Freshman PE classes from Huntington North, PE classes completed a two week skating lesson which included backward skating. With the elementary schools, Elmore had racks built and purchased over 50 pair of rentals that were then hauled from school to school for each PE teacher to use in their schools. This program was later purchased by the corporation and is still offered today in all elementary schools. Adult Roller Hockey leagues formed and played Saturday & Sundays. Over 100 players participated from Huntington, Muncie, Wabash and Fort Wayne.
The skating center was sold in 2001. After 8 ½ years , Richard Ness repurchased the skating center in June of 2010 at which time his daughter, Kathy Elmore, was named General Manager. The facility was completely remodeled with new concession stand, totally renewed restrooms, new paint and design, additional lighting, and 500 pair of new skate rentals. Currently, programming includes complete Birthday Party packages, private skating parties for schools, churches and other groups, Speed Team, Teen Dances and the infamous All Night Skates.
West Park Skate Center is also now available for banquets, receptions and trade shows with seating capacity of 650 people. A sound system complete with portable microphone and video screen, special lighting, neutral color scheme, old world art murals, tables and chairs, and partition curtains that separate the concessions and gaming area from the reception area are various features.
On Saturday, February 4th, a reunion was held from 6:30 – 10:30pm. West Park Skate invited anyone who might have met their spouse at the skating center to attend along with all the skaters that have loved West Park in the local area. They would like to see past employees, hockey players, speed team, those who attended the Disco Dances, and anyone who frequented the skating center over the past 35 years.