Skateland is re-opening

Elka Wyatt, Reporter

Lace up your skates and get rolling, because Skateland, a popular Bakersfield skating rink for six decades, is here to stay.

Built and operated as a roller skating rink since 1955, the doors to Skateland were closed in Sept. 2014 and it looked like the new buyer would be using the building at 415 Ming Ave in Bakersfield as a warehouse.

As luck would have it, that deal fell through and the popular skating rink went back on the market.

Helen Swall, 40, began skating as a child at Skateland. She took private skating lessons there and also skated in the sessions on a regular basis.

As an adult, Swall then became one of the original members of The Bakersfield Diamond Divas, a local roller derby team.

The team practiced regularly at Skateland and held some of their bouts there as well.

When the rink closed, the Divas were left with no home rink.

With the rink on the market again, Swall found the perfect opportunity to keep Skateland as a skating rink, and also give the Divas a permanent home rink.

Along with her husband, Victor Swall, and his parents Michael and Marie Swall, Skateland was given a new lease on life. They officially became the owners on Dec. 12, 2014.

“It was the right time and the right place,” said Swall about her decision to buy the skating rink where she spent many hours practicing figure skating, freestyle skating and roller derby for the majority of her life.

Bakersfield native Barbara Carroll, 61, said that though she did not go very often, she remembers going to Skateland around the age of eight.

Shannon Hogg, who took skating lessons from two of the skating instructors, including Natalie Dunn Fries, a four-time artistic roller skating world champion, said “Going back to Skateland brings back happy childhood memories.”

The Dunns, Omar and Dolores came to teach roller-skating in 1959. In the 60s, they managed the rink and sometime in the mid 70s they bought it.

Their daughters Natalie Dunn Fries and Leslie Dunn-Meyers took over in 1995. Their hopes that Skateland would remain a skating rink were realized when the Swall family bought the building and was again opened for skating.

Swall confirmed that they would be making much-needed improvements to the rink including paint, carpet and the addition of three party zones. She also assured that some things would remain the same.

“We did get rid of the video games,” said Swall, “kids don’t play them anymore, they are on their phones now.”

Skateland will be available for private parties, school skating parties and fundraisers.

In addition to holiday specials, they offer Two Buck Tuesday, on the first Tuesday of the month, bargain night each Wednesday and regular skating sessions on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and evening and Sunday afternoon.

The Divas will also be practicing three nights a week.