Oklahoma City family fun has a way of making you a kid again.
The holiday season is in full swing. There's so much to experience right now as a family: Santa visits, Christmas lights tours, parties and school events. I could find a themed activity for each night of week this month for my family without even trying. It's all awesome and beautiful and we don't want to miss a thing.
Sometimes, though, December is just too busy and too much, all things red and green. Even if you love Christmas, there are limits to how long you really want to celebrate any given holiday.
My family's Christmas celebration started unusually early this year; we purchased our tree on Nov. 12 and decorated immediately after. I love it, they love it but wow, I am looking forward to the new year.
Last week, I felt ready to step back from Christmas everything. We took an intentional break from Christmas at a totally new activity: roller skating.
My parents and in-laws all mention roller skating when you ask about their childhoods. I can remember some of that same magic, not on 60s sidewalks but at our local roller rink as a kid in the 90s.
Grandma, my Mom, gave Isaac, age 4, roller skates for his birthday and he wanted to try them out in a more interesting space than our all-tile house and it seemed like the perfect time to check Christmas at the door.
I hadn't visited a roller rink since 1998 but walking through the doors at Skate Galaxy was like stepping back to that time and, incredibly, the same place in a completely different state. I don't know if all roller rinks look somewhat alike; they've been featured on ABC's "Modern Family" and I see similarities. I recognized the hallmarks of the Friday night skate parties I remembered: brown skates with orange brakes on high shelves, a brightly painted interior, concession stand, video games where quarters, found, earned and saved, are deposited in exchange for car and hero games.
Thirteen is now 31 and even as those numbers are reversed, the same electric feeling of thrill and freedom comes with roller skating. It's easy to forget you're the parent in the dark of the roller rink and that's not a bad thing for an afternoon of fun. We did what we came to do, tried it out with all the energy of pop songs in the background and lighting effects above.
Skating is like a hidden talent some parents have, surprisingly adept on the floor as they sail effortlessly by the hand of
their small children. I'm not that parent but I smiled, pushed forward and didn't fall.
If you're looking for something different to go do as a family, Skate Galaxy works for kids of all ages. Roller skating is one of those activities that siblings can enjoy even when they're not close in age. My oldest is 9 and he enjoyed it just as much as Isaac. Our baby, Gabriel, is almost 2 and I think he could start out with safety skates before too long.
Roller rinks have definitely improved since I was a kid. As the parent now, I notice more than I did then and that bigger picture isn't just about the fun of roller skating, which is pretty much guaranteed anyway.
Here are five awesome things about Skate Galaxy that I wouldn't have guessed:
- It's super clean: We visited Skate Galaxy at the end of a busy day. The carpet, restrooms and skating floor were all still clean, which I know has to be a challenge for any venue that serves kids. I also saw staffers spraying skates with disinfectant. Check.
- The concessions are better: Nacho cheese and Pixie Sticks were the main concessions when I was growing up. This isn't that. Skate Galaxy's homemade pizza doesn't even come from a box; it's not frozen. They literally make their own. There's space to have a birthday party, especially if you book in advance. It didn't feel cramped or dingy.
- New skaters are welcome: Skating is more fun for kids after they try it and improve their skills. There are free lessons on Saturdays at noon. A pro who's experienced in working with kids and really giving them tips that make all the difference can give your child a free lesson. When we go back, I'll have Isaac do that because it's better than me giving inexperienced advice for something I haven't done in almost 20 years. Small walkers, like the kind used for ice skating, are also available for rent and they give so much security to young skaters (and okay, some older ones too for a few rounds), that they're worth the $5 fee.
- Socks and skates are for sale: Jelly shoes were all the rage when I was a kid and there was more than one occasion I forgot my socks during a roller rink trip. My sons don't have that problem right now but I can totally see where they might forget them in sandal weather. A $2-pair of socks for sale on-site could save a summer afternoon, so that's a good second-chance option. Safety skates and regular pairs are also available for purchase so you're not guessing at a big box store about what might fit.
- There are Family Night deals: Our family has five people and it's not cheap to go out to dinner then an activity. Skate Galaxy has admission for up to five people with drinks and pizza for $29. There's one weekend night, Sunday, from 6 to 8 that would work really well for us and also a Thursday option from 6 to 9 if we ever get free during the week, like on Christmas break coming up soon. Get more info on Family Night here.
When I asked Sam and Isaac what they liked best about Skate Galaxy, their answers really surprised me. I thought Isaac would say he just liked the roller skating. Instead, he said "I liked that you held my hand and went with me." Sam nodded. "I mean, you're always our Mom but like, when you're roller skating, you're our fun Mom."
I'll take that any day of the week.