Everett Arena starts public roller skating; what will COVID due to its crowds?  

  • Granite State All-Star Karen "TazSlamian Devil" Forrest wipes off her wheels before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars at Everett Arena on Saturday, May 17, 2014. (ARIANA van den AKKER / Monitor staff)Karen “TazSlamian Devil” Forrest wipes off her wheels before the bout against the Central New York All-Stars. Ariana van den Akker

Monitor staff
Published: 6/9/2021 5:16:14 PM

Concord’s Everett Arena returns to pre-COVID form Wednesday night with the start of the sixth summer of roller skating, although nobody is quite sure what post-shutdown crowds will look like.

Last weekend’s Antique Book and Paper Fair was the first at the city arena since the mask mandate was lifted and indoor gatherings were allowed to return mostly to normal. Crowds were a little off, said Jeff Bardwell, who manages the arena and other city properties for Concord.

“It was less attendance than they had hoped for … but the dealers were mostly happy,” he said.

Speaking three hours before the doors opened for the first time, Bardwell said he didn’t know whether roller skating would be mobbed by people desperate to finally get out of the house or avoided by people worried because under-12-year-olds cannot yet be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Arena is still following protocols, such as offering hand sanitizer. Mask wearing is entirely optional.

Bardwell said Granite State Roller Derby has been “a great resource” getting equipment, and getting the word out.

“We’re the only facility in New Hampshire that offers roller skating anymore,” he said. “A lot of parents grew up with it, but kids may not know it. … It’s a good activity, get them away from video games for a while.”

Roller skating doesn’t crowd the arena like ice skating does, providing more space for those nervous about the coronavirus. “This is not something that we’d have too many people in close contact,” he noted.

The Douglas Everett Arena hosted four events in April and May, when masks and other COVID-19 protocols were still in place. It also hosted public ice skating in the winter, which drew crowds despite restrictions.

“We limited attendance to 30%. It was very popular,” he said.

As has been the case for several years, roller skating continues through July 30, after which the Arena has scheduled a full slate of rented events before transitioning to ice skating Sept. 7, the day after Labor Day.

Roller skating will be Tuesdays through Fridays from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. There is always music, with a DJ on Wednesdays and Fridays.

The cost is $5, with rental skates available for another $5. See concordnh.gov/rollerskating for more information.

(David Brooks can be reached at 369-3313 or dbrooks@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @GraniteGeek.)

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