Fresno Beehive

Everything old is cool again? United Skates revives Clovis roller rink into neon fun land

For Shelli Barnett-Cash, the past few weeks at United Skates Clovis have been a blast from the past.

She grew up skating at the roller rink on Peach Avenue in Clovis, back when it was Roller Towne. She worked at the rink in the ’90s before it became Cal Skate.

So she remembers the heyday of the rink.

“In the 80s, it was jammed packed,” says Barnnett-Cash, who started work as general manager when United Skates of America reopened the rink in March.

Since, then, the rink has seen a massive influx of skaters — for birthday parties, school field trips, special events and also its weekly open skate sessions, including the Sunday night adult skate.

“And it is jammed packed,” she says.

“You’ll have to come check it out.”

United Skates of America owns 20 rinks across the United States. It bought the Clovis location (the company’s first in California) last year and spent the past several months updating the facility.

What’s changed

Gone are the old beige skate shoes and dingy carpeting. Rows of new shoes sit behind the back desk. The quad skates are still leather, beige and orange, but depending on the your size, there are also bright blue plastic shoes with neon orange wheels.

The Rollerblade style in-line skates (yes, you can skate in-lines) are black.

For the younger skaters, the shoes are made of bright plastic and are adjustable, with oversized wheels to help keep balance.

United Skates of America employee Jesse Alvarado readies skates for the crowd on Saturday, April 6, 2019. JOHN WALKER

The carpet throughout is new, a swirl of neon stars.

The company brought in an artist to create the giant mural that runs across the rink wall. It’s deep with images of Fresno and Clovis. There’s the Fresno Water Tower and the Van Ness Avenue arch that reads “Best Little City in the U.S.A.” in neon green. There’s the Clovis Rodeo logo, and the Fresno Grizzlies and the Fresno State Bulldog.

Everything is designed to glow under black light.

The arcade has been updated with ice (skee) ball and other ticket games. The large prize counter is the first thing you see when you enter. The snack bar has an updated menu that is more than just pizza and popcorn.

Still the same

Of course, some things haven’t changed.

At least once each session, skaters play the four-corner game that was ubiquitous at Roller Towne. Skaters still need help with the basics — each group skate gets a quick lesson on how to fall and get back up. Hint: Don’t use you arms to break the falls. Wrist guards are provided (and mandatory) for all group skates. They are suggested to open session skaters, too.

There are also skate mates — essentially a small PVC walker with wheels — for the youngest skaters and their parents.

James Piazza steadies his 5-year-old daughter, Ella, from a near-fall as they roll along at the new United Skates of America in Clovis on Saturday, April 6, 2019. JOHN WALKER

Discounts and specials

Eventually, the rink will have rotating events like themed nights and character skates, where children can skate with a troll perhaps or the United Skates of America mascot (it’s a roller skating dinosaur).

As it stands, there are open sessions each day, plus a $1 skate session on Mondays at 6-8:30 p.m. and that Sunday adults-only skate session that’s proven popular. Skate rentals are $4 across the board, though you can bring your own as long as they have a toe stopper.

“It’s affordable for the three hours that they actually get,” says events and marketing manager Louise Russu.

Plus, there are always other specials and giveaways happening on the rink’s Facebook page, she says.

Working with schools

Along with open skate sessions and parties, United Skates of America brings its STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field trip to Clovis.

The program was developed by the company in 2012 and allows school classes to access one of 11 lesson plans from an on-staff STEM educator. The company-wide curriculum is tailored to California standards and can be geared for grades K-12.

The rink also currently runs an “early release” skate from 2-5 p.m. each Wednesday to coincide with Clovis Unified’s schedule.

It also hopes to offer after prom and end-of-the-year events for students. The rink will have three or four all-night skates throughout the year, Barnett-Cash says with more than a hint of excitement.

“We haven’t seen an all-night skate in this building in years.”

United Skates Clovis

▪ 2881 Peach Ave., Clovis

▪ 559-291-0242