Brighton’s Rollerama Skating Center celebrates 50 years in business

The Rollerama Skating Center opened on October 6, 1972. Last Thursday, owners, employees and community members celebrated 50 years in business.

“It’s crazy. A lot of businesses can’t stand that much, let alone being closed for COVID,” owner Jennifer Decator said. “It’s just that we appreciate the Brighton community being here and going. If it wasn’t for the customers, we wouldn’t be here.”

Prices were reduced from $12 for admission and $5 for skate rentals to $1.25 for admission and 50 cent skate rentals, as when the business opened in 1972 .

In 50 years, the company has passed through many owners. About 10 years ago, Jennifer Decator and her husband Dave along with Mike Hamade bought the skating center, along with other locations, after the business went bankrupt.

One of the Rollerama Skating Center owners, Jennifer Decator, stands with a plaque presented to her by the Greater Brighton Area Chamber of Commerce to commemorate the centre's 50th anniversary on Thursday October 6, 2022.

Apart from the eight months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the place remained open.

“We’ve had generations of families here,” Jennifer Decator said.

Plus, over the past 10 years there have been a myriad of improvements and updates with more to come.

“We remodeled the whole facility. It’s still a work in progress, but we started pretty much from the beginning, so in 2013,” Jennifer Decator said. “It’s 80 by 160 and it’s still the original hardwood maple floor, we just painted it.”

As for what has kept them open all these years, she said she attributes it to the hobby of roller skating and additional attractions.

“These days you have to have more than one attraction in a roller rink,” said Jennifer Decator.

In 2014, additional attractions such as play area and bumper cars were added.

Brighton resident Caitlyn Fischer skates backwards on the floor at the Rollerama Skating Center on Thursday October 6, 2022

For many, Rollerama Skating Center is like a second home. Kaylee Brogan spent the last six or seven years coaching roller figure skating and competing before that for 11 years, more than two of them on Team USA.

“When I was six, I started skating here. I’ve been skating here for 18 years,” Brogan said.

Others who owe the center a lot are Rollerama Skating Center employee Joshua Brian, who has worked at the facility for six years but started at the center at age 10 playing floor hockey.

“This place means a lot to me. It’s been a big part of half my life. Celebrating 50 years is pretty cool to me,” Brian said.

The family that has a second home at heart, however, is that of the Fischers, who moved to the United States in 2012. Their father, Peter Fischer is Swiss and their mother Anja Jacob Fischer is German.

Brighton resident Caden Fischer skates on the floor at the Rollerama Skating Center on Thursday October 6, 2022 during the 50th anniversary.

Peter Fischer said roller skating was popular in Europe and the couple wanted to tell their children Caden and Caitlyn Fischer about it, but in Europe there is none in the rinks.

When they all arrived in the United States, they started going to Rollerama Skating Center. The siblings compete individually and in pairs in inline figure skating.

“We survived 50 years and we hope to survive another 50 years,” Hamade said. “Despite everything we went through with the (economic) crash of 2008 and then the recent pandemic, it’s amazing that we are still surviving.”

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