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65-year-old West Michigan roller skating rink closes shop one last time

Long Lake Roller Rink in Portage opened more than six decades ago. The building is in the process of being sold. (WWMT/Andrew Bisset)

A long-time West Michigan roller rink turned off the lights for the final time on Friday, June 1.

Long Lake Roller Rink in Portage opened more than six decades ago. The building is in the process of being sold.

"My mom and dad met at a roller skating rink shortly before World War II,” Danette Carpenter-Little, co-owner of the rink, said. "They fell in love. Daddy taught her how to skate. Then Daddy was shipped out. She stayed with those rink operators, and learned how to run a rink while dad was overseas serving. And, when dad returned they decided to open their own rink. They opened here June 20, 1952."

“It's been 65 years, that's a good run. And I want to go out and find out what other people do on Friday nights,” Carpenter-Little said.

The owner eventually passed the business down to his daughters and many in the community say, not only have they been life-long fans of the rink, but they became family, too.

Paula Emmons Taylor attended opening night at the roller rink.

“Since the day they opened the doors in 1952 and I'm still skating today,” Taylor said. "We did the grand march every week. We did the hokey pokey. We just had so much fun. t's just been awesome that they've kept it open enough that my great grandkids can skate here."

For Carpenter-Little, the night is bittersweet.

"One minute I'm happy and the next minute I'm sad. The next minute I'm kind of numb,” Carpenter-Little said. "This isn't just our family business. It's our childhood home. You're standing over my old bedroom right now,” Carpenter-Little motioned to our cameraman, Andrew Bisset. “The kids in the snack bar are over our old kitchen. I mean when we say we grew up we're not messing around. We grew up here. To all the families who have supported this place for 65 years I want to say to them, well done good and faithful skaters. Thank you."

It's not clear what the new owners plan to do with the property.

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