By Don Casperson
LAHS Senior Appreciation Night. Photo by Don Casperson
The First United Methodist Church, 715 Diamond Drive (adjacent to Sullivan Field) has hosted the Friday night skate program called “United Skates” for nearly 50 years now. With many thanks to church historian Alice Carter, we know that the very first United Skates sessions took place Friday, May 11, 1962, not long after the construction of Fellowship Hall was completed.
Legend has it that the church took over the skate program from the YMCA at that time, and inherited all of the old four-wheel roller skates from the “Y.”
I think we still have many of those skates in our possession! In recent years, however, we have accumulated a larger number of inline rental skates (roller blades), and that is now the preferred mode of transportation for our Friday night visitors.
For anyone who has peeked into the “skate room” in Fellowship Hall, you probably noticed that we do still have a large selection of the four-wheel skates, many of which were refurbished in the early 1990s, and added to our impressive inventory of rental roller blades.
The skate program provides a safe venue for skaters ranging in age from toddlers to adults. Our Friday night program, which runs during the school year, is divided into two sessions – the first from 5:30-6:45 p.m. for third graders and younger, and the second from 7-9 p.m. for fourth graders and older.
This helps to ensure that our younger skaters don’t get run over by the faster and bigger youths! Frequently parents will join in with our younger group, and we certainly encourage that.
For many years now United Skates has also supported the popular high school graduation program called “Senior Appreciation Night”, and is one of the many locations around town that provide activities for the graduating seniors. This year the graduation ceremony takes place Saturday, May 26, and the SAN activities start that afternoon and run into the early morning hours of Sunday.
The United Skates time slot for the seniors is 10 p.m. until midnight. SAN marks the end of the school year, and the end of our Friday night sessions as well (to be started anew in September.)
The skate program also offers weekend private “birthday skating parties” where the Fellowship Hall can be rented for two hours at a time – and this has become a very popular activity in recent years, with many repeat customers. These parties are available year-round.
Coincidentally, this coming May 11 is also a Friday, and so we will be celebrating the true golden anniversary of the skate program with some special refreshments and decorations, and perhaps some reminiscing. Come join us!