After 52 years, birthday and bar mitzvah parties on wheels, Prince theme nights, New Year's Eve balloon drops and spinning disco balls are coming to an end.
St. Louis Park's venerable Roller Garden skating rink is closing in less than a month. The last dance, last chance, to skate, as disco queen Donna Summer would put it, is on May 8.
Bill Sahly, one of the longtime owners of the Roller Garden, said the decision was motivated by the desire to retire from the demanding job of running a skating rink that has involved four generations of his family since 1969.
The online announcement also cited the impact of the pandemic, which led to a temporary closure of the rink and then a reopening to reduced capacity.
"The challenges of this past year made us realize how short life is, and the amount of time we've missed with our own families in order to run this business," the announcement said.
But the historic building near Minnetonka Boulevard and Hwy. 100 will still retain its recreational heritage: It's been sold to another family that will turn it into a gymnastics gym, Sahly said.
The 30,000-square-foot building with its distinctive curved roof was originally built in 1930 as a riding arena back in the days when wealthy Minneapolis residents would ride horses on bridle paths around the lakes. The building was later renamed the Roller Garden as horseback riding got displaced in the area by the post-World War II housing boom.
It was also used for roller skating and ice skating, indoor tennis and a venue for rock concerts, once hosting a dance show by Minneapolis surf rock band the Trashmen that drew 2,000 people.
The end of the Roller Garden will leave only two other roller skating venues in the area, Skateville in Burnsville and Cheapskate in Coon Rapids.