California Roller Rink owners Jerry and Deanna Hoback are disheartened about the recent closing of the business that has provided so many years of recreational, family-style fun to residents of California and surrounding areas.
"I'm so disappointed and it's sad for the kids," Deanna said. "We have very limited activities for kids here in California. Over the weekends, we would have 75-100 kids skating. Now what are they going to do? On New Year's Eve, we always had a big party for all of the kids and we stayed open until 12:30-1 a.m. It was good for them to have that and we would go all out with the hats and blowers, and special snacks."
Jerry added, "The roller rink has been here in California for 60 some years. It's been at the current location for 40 years. It was out by Village Green at one point."
The California Roller Rink officially closed May 18.
"We rent the building from Rick and Chris Murphy," Deanna said. "After last winter when they had to shovel snow off of the roof, Rick got concerned about the structural stability of the building, which is old, as well as liability issues, so he decided to sell it."
The Hobacks bought the roller rink from Glen Burlingame, California, in 2005.
"Glenn, who was our neighbor, had owned the roller rink for 34 years," Deanna said. "He saw how much time we spent there for our girls' birthday parties and Halloween parties, and approached Jerry and me about buying it. He was looking for the right people, because to work with kids, you have to be the right kind of person. You have to have patience."
Jerry and Deanna said it took less than a week for the couple to decide to buy the business.
"After we bought it, we remodeled and updated the inside with new carpet and counters and black lights, with the help of my brother Rick Helming," Deanna said.
Since then, the Hobacks, as well as their daughters Tabatha, now 20, and Rachael, 17, have accumulated years of memories at the rink.
"I doubt there are too many people from California who don't have memories of skating at the California Roller Rink," Deanna said. "My husband and I do, our girls do. It was the place to be when we were kids, then it was the place for us to bring our kids. Our daughter Tabatha was home from college recently talking with her friends about how they thought they ruled the rink when they were in middle school. I had to tell her there had been new crews of seventh graders that had taken over that role each year after her and her friends."
"My friends and I used to love coming here too," Rachael said. "We would even come when it was closed, when we didn't have anything else to do."
Deanna said, "From October through April, the rink was always booked with birthday parties. For one week every year, the California Middle School kids came to skate. High Point, Russellville, Tipton and Jamestown Schools too. For two years after the fire, Latham School held P.E. classes here through the winter because their gym wasn't finished. And even though we closed for the summer, we allowed the daycares to bring their kids to skate when they needed a school-age activity. We know how hard it is to find things for kids to do during the summer."
Both Jerry and Deanna say it's not the business-aspect of the closing of the roller rink that is upsetting.
"It's a community service with the hope of making a little money," Jerry said. "Kudos to Rick and Chris for providing this building and for keeping the rent cheap. We really just want the community to know we aren't closing because we don't want to do this anymore. That couldn't be further from the truth. We are so sad."
Deanna said she worries California will be like so many other small towns. "I hate to see all of these activities for families die out, to where people have to leave town to have fun. Skating is family fun. It's a fun physical activity that's good for the kids. It just makes me really sad for our town."
The Hobacks have even explored the possibility of another facility in California that could house a roller rink, but have come up with no other options thus far.
"We talked to the mayor to get suggestions," Deanna said. "He agreed it's disappointing to lose our roller rink. In small towns, the extra things just seem to die off. We're boxing up the skates just hoping we'll be able to get them out again."
Deanna added, "We want to thank community for the years of support and we also thank Rick Murphy for supplying the building for so many years at a reasonable cost."
"From the beginning, Rick told us this was for the kids," Deanna said. "Of course you don't make a lot of money from a business that's only open two days a week. But it was never about the money. It's about doing for the community and providing fun for the kids."
If anyone has any suggestions regarding the possibility of relocating the roller rink, they are encouraged to call Jerry or Deanna Hoback at 573-796-3308.
"Maybe somebody has an idea that we don't have," Deanna said.