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Families bring in the new year early at Hagerstown skating rink

January 01, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN - The sun was shining and midnight was more than 10 hours away, but beneath the colored lights and disco ball in Starland Roller Rink, the party had already begun.

The rink handed out party hats and glowsticks to about 100 parents and children who came for a family-friendly New Year's Eve bash from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

"The horns they get when they leave," owner Barbara Donaldson said.

The rink has stayed open past midnight on New Year's Eve for more than 60 years, but it was only within the past few years that owners decided to add an earlier party aimed at those younger than 12, Donaldson said.

"We started to do this so when the parents go out later, the kids have had a taste of New Year's, and the parents can then go do what they want to do," she said.

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The matinee party cost $5 and featured kid-friendly music, while the later party began at 7:30 p.m. and cost $10, Donaldson said. However, she said the later party also attracts many children, and parents often drop older children off to skate while they go out for dinner or a movie.

Joseph Jefferson, 42, said he grew up skating at Starland and probably spent 10 or 15 New Year's Eves there. Now, he brings his 7-year-old twins, Olivia and Gentry, to skate there two or three times a week, and the rink's Christmas and New Year's Eve parties are part of their family tradition.

Oliva said she likes doing the hokeypokey and the cha-cha skate, while Gentry likes fast skating and skating to music like "Stronger" by Kanye West.

Joseph said the earlier parties make celebrating New Year's with kids more realistic.

"You can't really expect your kids to stay up until midnight, so we go here and to a friend's house and get home by 10:30 or 11," he said.

Sherri and Bruce Griffith of Greencastle, Pa., said they gave their daughters a choice between going to Whitetail Resort or going roller skating on New Year's Eve. The girls chose the roller rink.

"We'd been wanting to teach them how to skate," Sherri said.

Kaylee, 10, who was trying out a new pair of rollerblades, said skating was "fun, but a little scary."

"It's slippery," 4-year-old Kierra said.

For Zachary Wolfe, the party was a celebration not only of a new calendar year, but a new year of his life. His 13th birthday was Dec. 28, but his mom, Mary Wolfe, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said she decided to bring his friends to the New Year's Eve bash so they could enjoy the party favors and games.

The celebration included a limbo contest and the "spot game," where skaters gather on colored spots in the corners when the music stops and skaters on certain colors are eliminated each round, Donaldson said.

Mary Wolfe said the party was just what she was looking for.

"It's a family atmosphere," she said. "They even stopped my son and told him to slow down."

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