By Rita J. Egan
With the temperatures rising, a transformation is underway at The Rinx at the Harborfront Park’s Village Center in Port Jefferson. From April 10 to July 25, locals can change those ice skating blades for wheels as the outdoor rink will offer roller skating for the first time.
Renee Lemmerman, Village of Port Jefferson superintendent of recreation, said she saw Tom Palamara, owner of The Rinx, at the park last summer and said to him, “Hey, did you ever think of doing roller skating when ice skating ends?”
The two later met to talk about the possibility, and Palamara started looking into different types of surfaces and companies that could undertake such a project, according to Lemmerman. The superintendent said there are currently no roller rinks in Suffolk County, and she thought it would be a fun activity for local children. However, she soon found out roller skating isn’t just for kids when she was speaking with various people.
Lemmerman said one woman to whom she told the news, who was around 50 years old, said to her, “Oh my God, I want to go roller skating! I would never go ice skating but I used to roller skate.” The superintendent said she realized after talking to the woman, “Wow, we’re going to hit a whole different demographic here.”
Palamara said once the news started spreading that roller skating would arrive in Port Jefferson, people began approaching him asking if it was true. “It’s really amazing the level of interest we have gotten from random people,” he said.
While researching to find out if there had ever been a rink in Port Jefferson during the 20th century, Palamara found a newspaper article from “The Brooklyn Daily Eagle” dated July 5, 1908. According to the article, roller skating took place at Athena Hall located in the building now occupied by Theatre Three. With the absence of the activity from the village for decades, the owner said everyone at The Rinx is excited about offering roller skating and providing another pastime for village visitors. He also has found from the ice skating season that Harborfront Park provides the perfect spot for a family gathering or night out for couples. “The thing that is great about the rink in Port Jefferson is it’s a nice, small, Rockfeller-Center-like rink,” Palamara said.
Ice skating ended on March 15, and the ice will be replaced with a multi-purpose, athletic sports court floor. Palamara said quad skates will be available to rent as the style of skates have a much wider platform than roller blades, making them easier for new or rusty skaters. The owner said attendees are also welcomed to bring their own skates, and the roller rink will be available for birthday and private parties.
Admission rates are $11 adults, $5.50 seniors and $8.50 children 11 and under, except for Friday and Saturday nights when admission is $12 for all. Skate rental is an additional $5.50.
The Rinx is located at the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101-A East Broadway, Port Jefferson. For more information on session times and discount passes, visit www.TheRinx.com/Roller or call 631-403-4357 for more information.