MICHIGAN CITY – It’s been a few years since La Porte County’s had a roller rink, but those who've been missing it can head to downtown Michigan City this weekend to enjoy a new spin on the old-fashioned pastime.

From 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Saturday, the city lot at the northwest corner of 7th and Franklin streets will be transformed from a grassy field to an outdoor roller rink.

And if the inaugural Franklin Street Roll-Around is successful, it could lead to the establishment of a new, permanent rink.

“We’re really thrilled to be hosting this event at 7th and Franklin,” said Abigale Thayer Kuchta, special events coordinator for the city. “Patricia [Ross] hooked the city up with a company in New York that brings in portable roller-skating rinks. And the city was able to fund the event, allowing for everything to be free for people and families who come out.”

That’s right – not only will it be free to skate, but skate rental will also be free. Of course, only a limited number of skates will be available on-site, so Kuchta encourages those who are able to bring their own.

Jenilee Haynes-Peterson of the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City said the idea for the Roll-Around was sparked after Ross, a Michigan City native now living in California, contacted EDCMC to inquire about the possibility of establishing a permanent roller rink.

“I became personally involved because I think this is a necessary event for an inclusive Michigan City,” Haynes-Peterson said. “Roller skating appeals to people from across many demographics, so I hope to see everyone come out to enjoy this event.”

Ross is a travel agent by day and roller rink manager by night, running the renowned World on Wheels in Los Angeles. And while she enjoys working with A-list celebrities who host private parties, and shoot music videos and movies in her rink, her heart is in Michigan City with her children and grandchild.

“I was born in Michigan City, but moved to California when I was 2,” Ross said. “My mother always told me that if I got straight As, I could go back to Michigan City to visit my grandmother. So, that’s what I did, and I spent my summers there. As an adult, I got married in Michigan City and raised my family there. But after my divorce, I moved back to California.”

Ross said the divorce and transition was a painful time in her life, and she found that skating helped her cope with depression.

She is now CEO of her own skate club, Wood Rydrz, which has eight chapters nationwide.

“My ultimate goal is to have my own skating rink in Michigan City,” Ross said. “… Skating saved my life. I read the papers and I see that the people there need something. Skating could be a good outlet for them.”

In addition to roller skating, Saturday’s event will feature other free, family-friendly activities, like relay races and a bags tournament.

And picnic tables will be stationed on the southwest lot at 7th and Franklin, so Kuchta encourages those who attend to pack a picnic lunch and make a day of it.

The Michigan City Board of Public Works and Safety signed off on the event last week by approving Kuchta’s request to close 7th Street between Washington and Franklin for the event. And it authorized the city to pay Neon Entertainment $2,950 to bring in the portable rink and skates.

Centier Bank and the La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsored the additional activities.

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