For the first time in two months, the sound of music and roller skates gliding across maplewood flooring will fill the air Thursday night in Centralia.
The Centralia Rollerdrome is opening Feb. 4 after being temporarily shut down since November due to COVID-19 regulations.
It’s been a long road for the Rollerdrome, which has been struggling to keep up with the state’s ever-changing pandemic guidelines and restrictions. The skating rink has been open and closed twice since March. That includes being open for just 11 days in July and for six weeks in October and November 2020, before being forced to close down again.
The Rollerdrome received a call from the state Department of Health on Nov. 13, saying if it didn’t shut down on Nov. 16 that it would be fined $10,000.
So the Rollerdrome closed down on the 16th, the same day restaurants were forced to shutter indoor dining. Now, with the state’s new Healthy Washington plan, the skating rink falls into a different category than restaurants and is able to reopen.
That’s due to Lewis County moving into Phase 2 of the reopening plan on Monday, along with fellow West Region counties Thurston, Grays Harbor and Pacific.
The hardest part for the Rollerdrome, owner Randy Ray said, is the guidelines changing frequently, which has caused it to open and close at unpredictable times.
“Either let us open or don’t let us open,” Ray said. “But this opening and closing is harder on us and the public, too, because they don’t know if you’re open or not.”
Ray, who owns and operates the rink with family, said they’re nervous about reopening Thursday after Gov. Jay Inslee said the state will reevaluate COVID-19 case numbers and see if any counties will move forward or backward in the phasing. If the West Region moves back to Phase 1, the rink will be forced to close again.
“That’s obviously our biggest fear, that in a few weeks from now we’ll book birthday parties and private parties and then they’ll shut us down and we can’t do them for people,” Ray said.
The Centralia Rollerdrome is owned by Ray and his wife, Christina, while their children and grandchildren help manage and operate the rink. The family has owned it for 21 years, since moving to Centralia from Spokane to buy the rink. Ray said the Rollerdrome, which was built in 1904, is the oldest continually-operated skating rink in the state and the second-oldest in the country.
It is the furthest skating rink south in Western Washington, with Skateland Olympia being the closest one to the Rollerdrome. The closest rink to the south is in Portland, Oregon.
The rink was revamped in July 2020, in anticipation of being reopened for the first time since March 2020. The four-month closure allowed the family to install new maplewood flooring, new siding on the outside of the building and the bathrooms were completely remodeled.
The Rollerdrome’s grand reopening will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 4. Family night skating will be every Thursday at that time as well. It will be open from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The rink is also open for private events and parties.
“Hopefully we’ll stay in Phase 2 and the rest of the state will get to go into Phase 2 soon, too,” Ray said. “It’s been a hard year for a lot of small businesses. That’s for sure.”
For more information, call the Rollerdrome at 360-736-7376, or visit the website at www.centraliarollerdrome.com.