Skateville is the go-to destination for about 3 dozen birthday parties per week during the winter months and over a dozen per week during the summer.  Although our packages have changed over the years, our commitment to providing a fun-filled experience has not.  We have a system that, although not always perfect, has served us pretty well and continues to be refined in order to deliver a memorable experience to each birthday child while making it as easy as possible for the parents involved.  We want to use this post to clarify the difference between a standard party and a private party.

For those looking for a standard party, by far the most common choice, we offer two package options (the details of which can be found at http://skateville.com/birthday-parties/ ).  These packages get you a reserved table or tables at which to host your party during a time when we are open to the public.  During some sessions, you may have the only party occurring.  On another day you may be surrounded by other families hosting their parties at the same time.  In either case, there will also be people in the rink who are just there to skate, not as a part of any party.  While that may sound a little chaotic, and at times it can be, the party atmosphere is strong and the kids love it.  They seem to soak in the excitement of the celebratory mood that abounds in every direction.  We have had parents tell us this is the third or fourth party in a row at Skateville for their family because the kids love it and the parents recognize it as a good value—and a great way to avoid having the mess and craziness at their own house!  Whether you get the basic package or the deluxe package, you can be assured we will do our best to make sure your special birthday child (or children in some cases of joint parties) and his or her guests have an exciting time.

But what if you are looking for something a little different and you’re willing to spend a little more money to get it?  What if you want to invite your child’s whole class or a lot of adult relatives or entire families and you’re concerned about the space or about keeping track of everyone?  What if you want to play a particular type of music your family enjoys?  What if you have a lot of young or inexperienced skaters and you want them to learn in a less busy environment? These, and many others, are great reasons to have a private birthday party at Skateville.  During a private party, there is no one in the building that you did not invite.  You can bring your own playlist (if you like), and you can choose where to sit, where to set presents, where to display your cake, etc.  In the private party option, there are also two styles of party from which to choose (see them at http://skateville.com/birthday-parties/private-birthday-parties/ ) depending on what best meets your needs.  Because we are only able to offer private parties at times when we do not have public sessions, we have a limited number of slots available and they often fill up quickly, especially on winter and spring weekends.  We encourage you to plan ahead if you want to schedule a private party, although we will certainly schedule them on short notice if the space is available. (On a side note: private parties are good for all types of events beyond kids’ birthdays.  We have had going away parties, wedding showers, bachelorette parties, adult milestone birthdays, bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations,  corporate events, family reunions, and others.)

So is it really easy on the parents?  It certainly can be.  Either type of party can be as simple or as complicated as the hosts want to make it.  You can make two trips in from the car with decorations and props, or you can use our brightly colored building and flashing lights as your decorations.  You can bring in a custom made multi-piece cake, or you can stop down the street for cupcakes off the shelf on your way to the party.  You can let your child invite a handful of friends, or you can invite the whole soccer team.  You can assemble meticulous gift bags, or you can give the kids each a handful of quarters and have them go at the video games and prize counter and pick out their own souvenirs.  Whichever type of party you have, we encourage you to try to relax enough to enjoy watching the kids have fun—or join in the fun yourself.  When they proclaim this was “the best birthday party I ever had”, we want you to be able to agree with them, because those words are sweet music to our ears….!

Many of you heard the recent news reports about our celebrity visitors, Kacey Musgraves and Katy Perry, in August and have been curious about it, so we thought we would provide a few details for those who are interested.

Apparently Kacey had done some research online about where she might be able to have her 26th birthday party while she was in town as an opening act for Katy Perry. (There are A LOT of skating rinks in Texas, where she is from, so maybe she skated as a “kid”….) She liked what she saw about Skateville, and her reps contacted us in July about the possibility of hosting the event. We set up the details with them in the same way we would for any private party. We were told Katy had been invited, but that’s all we knew at that point. (Much closer to the event we were told she had accepted the invitation, but, to be honest, we thought so many things could come up that we thought it might be a 50-50 chance she would actually show.)

The day of the event, two of Kacey’s associates who had set up the party details and were coordinating the event came to Skateville and purchased a pair of rollerskates, pink laces, and a pink skate case for Kacey’s birthday present. (Kacey later posted a couple of pictures showing what she called her “new bubblegum birthday skates”.) Shortly before the event was to start, they hit up the dollar store and returned to put out a few plastic tablecloths and birthday decorations. They also brought in assorted glowsticks and party headbands and hats for the guests to get in the spirit. In the meantime, a couple of Katy’s security people showed up to check out the area, where all the entrances to the building were, etc. It was interesting talking with them.

Kacey and some of her friends/family/band/tour dancers arrived very soon after the scheduled start time, coming in their tour buses and an SUV with a driver. Kacey looked very pretty in a pink sequined top, with her hair down and crystals on her face. More guests arrived shortly, making about 50 people overall. They ate regular Skateville pizza, nachos, and drinks. Some of them were good skaters, and some of them just made a brave attempt, just how it is with most groups that come. It was a warm evening, so one of the dancers bought a Skateville T-shirt and used a scissor to make the arms and bottom into fringe so she could take her sweater off and wear that instead. It looked really cute on her!

About 45 minutes to an hour after the party started, Katy arrived. She was wearing a rainbow iridescent halter top, a gray skirt, and had her hair pulled back into pigtails wrapped into little buns or knots. But what we really loved was her shoes! She had white platform tennis shoes with green LED lights running around the base of them…so fun! Flo (one of our managers) added the light-up glasses to her outfit, and she wore them most of the night. Just like the rest of the group that had arrived earlier, she was very nice and gracious. When one of us approached her, she would stick out her hand to shake ours and say, “Hi, I’m Katy.”

Kacey and friends were dancing, skating, talking, eating, and taking pictures “just like regular people” having a birthday party at Skateville! Four round layer cakes were brought in, each a different flavor, and at one point Kacey blew out the candles and cake was served. We even played the traditional Skateville birthday song in the background.

Katy took a liking to the inflatable green alien at the Stuff Shop, so we gave her one of her very own, and she carried him around part of the night. She even shot and posted a cute video with him on her Instagram account, which we have also shared on our Facebook page. She also spent a good amount of time looking carefully at all the sticker and tattoo machines and purchasing a whole stack of stickers and temporary tattoos. She even took a ride in the kiddie car in the lobby. Kacey and Katy both often had their phones out for taking selfies and videos.

A good time was being had by all, so they asked if they could stay an extra hour beyond the time they originally set up, and we were happy to accommodate them. Toward the end of their stay, one of Kacey’s associates asked us if we would like to go see the show the next night. We were thrilled and grateful! Eleven of us went to the Target Center the next night and saw opening act Ferras, opening act Kacey Musgraves, and headliner Katy Perry.

During the show, Kacey mentioned how she had spent her birthday the night before at the skating rink in Burnsville and how much fun it had been, and that even though she had her knee pads on, she didn’t fall once! Katy talked even a bit more about it, mentioning the name Skateville and how it was one of the best mom-and-pop rinks in the country, very nostalgic (“which is a good thing”, she said), with super nice people. She told everyone she got a bunch of stickers and tattoos. We couldn’t have asked for a better shout-out!

To be honest, although we of course play Katy Perry’s music here regularly, many of us were not too familiar with Kacey Musgraves, as she is newer to the scene and more in the country genre. We became familiar prior to her arrival, however, and we very much enjoyed her set at the concert. Her nice personality and her good music have earned her some new fans! And Katy could not have been any sweeter as we tried NOT to fawn over her. They both allowed us to take a group shot with them before they left. We honestly thought we would need a photo as proof they were here, not realizing it would be plastered across the news the next day! Not being celebrities in the social media world, we had no idea how much attention one tweet or Instagram shot could generate.

So it was a great experience. We do regret we couldn’t have all our staff here to participate, but that would not have been the authentic “normal” experience that we think they were looking for and that they got. Truly, what they did was the same type of party anyone can have when they reserve the rink. We did not charge them extra or do anything out of the ordinary, nor did they do –or ask to do—anything that anybody would not be able to. We want EVERYONE who has a party or event here to have a good time, famous or not. Whether that happens or not often depends on the attitude people come in with, but these people came to have a good time and they did….and this little mom-and-pop shop is very glad about that.

It’s always interesting to ring in the change of seasons here at Skateville.  In the winter we have a lot of evening skating parties and some daytime field trips with school groups, and we have many weekend private parties with scout groups, church groups, and such.  This past winter/spring we even had a fledgling roller derby league practicing here! Winter weekends keep us busy with our public skating and our many kids’ birthday parties.  As we transition to summer, however, we have fewer evening parties and quieter public sessions.  What we do start to have a lot of is daytime summer field trips by school-age care programs, such as Project Kids, Kids Zone, YMCAs, and many others.  These tend to be smaller groups scattered throughout the week, so we arrange our open skating hours during the same times since we also have fewer open skaters in the summer.  That is why you will see variations in the schedule from week to week and why there can be additions or changes from one time you check to the next.  Often when you come in during summer weekdays, you will see a group of young skaters in matching shirts that are on a field trip.  Sometimes you will see multiple groups coming and going at different times.  Rest assured, most of these groups are small in number, and there is plenty of room for you!  Skating is actually more fun for your kids when there are other kids here, too….it just adds to the energy and interest!

Another thing that has been popular this winter and continues to be so into the summer is our private birthday parties.  While it’s not for everyone, those that do it find it to be a wonderful experience.  When the only people in the rink are those who were invited to your party, you can relax and not have to worry about keeping track of everyone.  You can bring the exact playlist you want and invite lots and lots of friends and family.

While we know you have a lot of options for exercise and activities in the summer, we hope you won’t forget about us.  We’d love to see you see you now and then… we’ll keep you rolling through the summer!

This is a guest blog from Gary, one of our regular skaters.  He is a mature (read “grandfatherly”) skater who likes to help the beginners learn when he is here.  If you would like to submit an article to be considered for publication on our blog, please email denise@skateville.com.

Gary:   Most of my years of skating have been quite positive.  I have met people of various abilities and talents, and over time I have learned how to teach the skating basics to beginners of various ages.  For example, one time a manager pointed out to me a father and three sons who had come in and had never skated before.  The challenge I gave myself was to teach them how to skate.  Later in the session I saw the father with his coat on and asked if he was leaving so soon.  The reply was, “No…You taught them and I can’t get them off the floor!”  In later weeks, one of the boys would come up to me, give me a big hug, and say, “Thank you for teaching me how to skate!”  That was such a touching reward for me!

Just last weekend a woman stopped me and asked if I remembered her daughter and son.  The daughter looked a little familiar, but I was not certain.  The mother said I had worked with both of them and they looked forward to seeing me at Skateville.   The daughter still uses a SkateMate (a “walker” on wheels available for rent) for security, but watching her I could see that she had mastered correct edging to propel herself around the rink.  The best part for me was seeing the enormous smile she had because of pride in her new skill.  Giving her a thumbs up made her almost glow!

Sometimes I get to introduce a person to backward skating.  Some get the concept, some not so much.  One woman told me she absolutely could not go backwards.  This was a fun challenge for me.  I ran her through my instructional drill, telling her to “do this” and “do that.”  As she was going backward, pulling me, I said, “I want you to look me in the eye and tell me you cannot go backward.” She gave out a squawk and said, “Oh my goodness, I’m going backward!”  Usually those who practice the drill get the concept and do reasonably well.

I am a member of an unofficial group known as the Rink Rats.  We pay no dues.  We have no bylaws or secret handshakes.  What we share is a love of skating.  We trade happy greetings, such as, “Glad to see you today.”  We may have a short conversation or ask about someone we haven’t seen for some time.  Then, of course, there are the little barbs we throw at each other in fun!  There is some sadness when someone announces that they are moving to another state far away.  We know we are losing some of the camaraderie we have enjoyed over the years.

As I have skated more and taken lessons with the Skateville Skating Club members, my own skills have continued to improve, which in turn has made my skating even more enjoyable.  Being able to occasionally share skills with other skaters is very rewarding to me.  And when someone shares a “how to” with me or some encouragement on my efforts, I am being shown real friendship, which is a great side benefit to hanging out at the rink!

If you haven’t been to Skateville for the past year, it would be worth your while to come and check it out as the cool weather settles in and the prime skating season begins.  We have been busy making many updates to the facility.  Many of you remember coming here as kids in the 70′s and 80′s, and you would still recognize it and get the same vibe, which most people love experiencing again and reminiscing about with others.  In the past year, however, the walls have been repainted a vivid blue, raspberry-purple, and lime green.  The carpeting was replaced less than a year ago, and there are new lighting effects on the skating floor to add even more pizzazz to the skating experience.  Our crumbling parking lot has been completely replaced and striped for greater capacity.  We also have some fun lighting effects on the side of the building that faces Highway 13 if you go by after dark.  Perhaps the most welcome change has been the complete remodeling of the restrooms.  They are now beautifully tiled, with automatic flushing toilets, auto-on fixtures for the sinks, and new high-power hand dryers.

We know there are a lot of choices for family entertainment.  But few things compare to the feel of the wind in your face as you roll around the wooden floor, giant speakers blasting your favorite tunes, lights flashing, mirror ball turning.  It’s old-fashioned fun for a new generation that can discover the excitement of meeting new friends at the skating rink, getting great low-impact exercise without even realizing it, and participating in something that can become a lifelong activity, either individually or with family or friends.  If you have ever watched any of our regulars or our active older adults (yes, you can skate into your sixties, seventies, and beyond!), you can feel the passion they have for this sport and the pure joy they experience while moving around the skating floor.

Come be a part of it…because life is more fun on wheels.