Backed by a soundtrack of Disney and pop songs and with a strobe light in the background, the families of Wilton and Lyndeborough were treated to some retro entertainment on Friday night, transforming the Florence Rideout Elementary School gymnasium into a skating rink.
Skate Night is a longstanding school tradition, held several times a year in partnership with the Florence Rideout Elementary/Lyndeborough Central School Parent-Teacher Organization and the Monadnock Roller Derby. After a two-year absence due to the pandemic, he came back stronger than ever this year, said Megan Nantel, PTO secretary and one of the event organizers.
“It’s the first year we’ve been able to hold it in two years, and the last two we’ve held, we’ve had record turnouts,” Nantel said.
The night is split into two sections – once for students at Lyndeborough Central School, which is home to the district’s kindergarten and preschool classes, and then another time for older children. Throughout the evening, Nantel said Skate Night drew around 90 attendees, surpassing the interest from two years ago.
“The kids are excited to come back and have something to do, and to be able to burn some energy,” Nantel said.
This interest is great to see, said Jocelynn Drew of Antrim, chairman of the Monadnock Roller Derby.
Monadnock Roller Derby is key to Skate Night, as it offers skate rentals. COVID-19 has hit the skating community hard, Drew said, with several roller rinks in the state permanently closing, leaving only two survivors. It was a blow to roller derby, a sport that was growing before the pandemic, Drew said. Events like Skate Night can help reignite that interest.
“Just getting people on skates in general is awesome,” Drew said. “It was nice to see them come out again. The first one we held, everyone was constantly on the ground. They take over. Children are so quick to adapt. You give them something and they get it right back.
While Antrim has an adult roller derby team, the Mad Knockers, it also features a junior team for ages 7 to 17, the Mad Misfits. Unlike the adult team, which is a full-contact team, the junior team has multiple levels of competition, including no-contact, light-contact, and full-contact options.
“I really find it a good fit for misfits that don’t fit into other sports,” Drew said. “You don’t have to be good at football or baseball to be good at roller derby.”
Several members of the junior team are regulars on Skate Night, including Drew’s 12-year-old daughter Maeve. Maeve has been skating since she was 4 – so early that she didn’t even have skates that small and used wheels that attached to her shoes, she said. She has been a member of the Mad Misfits since she was 8 years old.
“It’s fun and a lot of my friends are playing. That’s my main thing,” Maeve said.
“It’s very difficult at first, but you get used to it and then it’s just fun,” said 10-year-old Izzy Hibbard, also a member of the junior team. She said she loves coming to Skate Night because instead of focusing on sports, like at practices or roller derby events, she can just have fun on her skates with her friends.
“You can talk to and meet a lot more people my age who like to skate,” Izzy said.
“I love that it’s a retro event and it’s funny how many people are really enjoying it,” Nantel said. “I think adults are excited to bring their kids to something they did as kids, and something they can still enjoy.”
Other upcoming skate parties in the area include a 1950s-themed fundraiser on April 2 from 5-8 p.m. at Hillsboro-Deering Middle School. There is an entry fee of $10 or $20 for a family and $5 skate rental. Children under 5 are free with a paying adult. Masks are optional. Profits will be used to finance a future regional community centre. The Mondanock Roller Derby is also hosting the ‘Return of the Skate Night’, with an 1980s film theme, on May 14 from 6-9pm at the Great Brook Gym at 16 School St. in Antrim. Admission is a suggested donation of $5 and skate rental is $6. Parents must sign youth under 16 at the gate. Children cannot leave the building without a parent.
Email [email protected] for more information.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or [email protected] She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.