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Roller Rinks Still Attracting Skaters of All Ages

The Skate Castle in Butler, PA. Photo by Vanessa Orr

Since the first roller skating rinks opened in New York City and Newport, RI in 1866, people have been intrigued by the family-friendly sport. While it was extremely popular between the 1930s-50s and experienced a resurgence in interest in the 1970s as part of the roller disco scene, those who truly love the sport have never stopped lacing up.

In the North Hills, die-hard roller skating fans have continued to frequent two long-standing facilities—the Skate Castle, located in Butler, PA, and Neville Roller Drome on Neville Island.

The Skate Castle

Built in 1947, the Skate Castle, which was originally known as the Castle Roller Rink, has been attracting skaters for more than 75 years—including owner Shannon Milasincic.

“I’m 54, and I grew up skating there, never knowing that I would own it someday,” said Milasincic, whose father bought the rink from its first owners, Ruth and Emil Maleski in 1985. Milasincic bought it from his father when he got out of college and co-owned it with his brother; now he owns it was his best friend, Benjamin Martin.

“It’s been such a blessing to have it in my life,” he added. “Nowadays, I see some of the first teenagers who skated here 25 years ago coming in with their children, and that’s pretty cool.”

The Skate Castle caters to families, and specializes in birthday parties for elementary school-aged kids and their families.

“I think that the reason we’ve been so successful is that we’re blessed with a wonderful community. I give credit to my customers who come every week or every two weeks, or who have their kids’ birthday parties here every year,” said Milasincic.

“As a Christian business, I also put God first, and give God credit for my success,” he added.

Despite experiencing a flood in 2006 that destroyed the floor of the rink, Milasincic said that it was a blessing in disguise. “We tore out the floor and shortened it 20 feet, and that allowed us to create a birthday area and a new arcade,” he explained. “That layout, which tripled our seating and multiplied our lounge area by two or three, brought so many more people in.”

Understanding that families need to watch their wallets, Milasincic added that the rink keeps prices very low, and also caters to the busy schedules of today’s skaters.

“We are cheap compared to other rinks; it costs maybe half as much to skate,” he said. “That means we don’t have as much to put back into the building, but we want to keep it affordable for all age groups so that anyone who wants to come in can afford it.”

The rink also features standard weekend hours, so that people can come in anytime on Friday, Saturday or Sunday. “We used to do two-hour sessions 20 years ago, but with people’s schedules nowadays, being able to come in at any time is very popular,” he said.

The Skate Castle’s season runs from Labor Day to shortly after Memorial Day, and it will close this year on June 10. “We don’t have air conditioning, so we close for the summer; kids get excited when school starts because they know it’s time to skate again,” laughed Milasincic.

“Nowadays, so many kids are stuck to their phones and video games, it’s good for them to get out and experience an in-person event,” he added. “It’s what they love about us to this day. It’s just exciting and fun to come in and skate and listen to great music.”

The Neville Roller Drome

The Neville Roller Drome opened in 1948 and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Owned by Jim and Sophie Park, the drome attracts multiple generations of skaters, including the Park family.

“We’re on our fourth generation of skaters in the building,” said Jim Park, a Northgate graduate who started skating when he was 6. “My parents met skating and taught me to skate, and I taught our kids. Our son taught his daughter at age 2, and his son (age 1) is now skating. At age 86, my mother still skates.”

The Parks are the rink’s second owners, having bought it from the Deramo family, who owned it from 1948-2011. According to Jim Park, the reason that the rink is so popular is that skating cuts across cultural divides, including income, race, color and creed.

“Located in the middle of the Ohio River, we draw from many different school districts, but the kids leave those rivalries at the door,” he said. “Here they are all just skaters.”

The Parks enjoy watching the skaters grow up and seeing parents who skated there come back with their children. The rink has even launched a couple of marriages.

“A couple met here two years ago, and had their first wedding dance on skates,” said Sophie Park. “Now the wife is expecting, and she can’t wait to get her little one skating.”

The drome offers three sessions for families each week, and two sessions for tweens and above that they can attend with their parents. They also host an adults-only night each week as well as private parties. For those new to the sport, they offer a five-week course of beginner skate lessons. In addition, the rink hosts a speed skating team, a junior roller derby for young men and women, and a coed adult derby league.

“We’re pretty busy,” laughed Jim Park, adding that they are also looking at expanding into the artistic side of roller skating as well, and host two jam-skating workshops a year to showcase breakdancing on skates.

The rink does have specific rules and a dress code for skaters to follow and doesn’t allow cellphones on the floor. “We want people to focus on what’s going on and on those original ‘social media’ skills like interpersonal social skills and interaction,” said Jim Park.

“We’re modeling something almost antiquated in today’s world that is not as revered as it should be,” added Sophie Park. “We want to provide some stability in some of these kids’ lives and impact them in positive ways; we want them to have good memories to think about as they move on with their lives.”

The Parks have heard from young skaters who credit the drome with providing them with a safe space to be themselves, and some have said they have stopped cutting themselves or contemplating suicide as a result of having this outlet.

“We take this to heart,” said Sophie Park. “This rink is a labor of love; it’s our passion. If you’re looking for dollar signs and hoping to put yourself in a financial position set for life, this is not the business for you.

“We understand the importance we have in people’s lives and the importance of providing a solid foundation of safe, clean fun,” she added. “Families matter to us, and their experience matters to us.”

To learn more about Neville Roller Drome, visit or

Find The Skate Castle at

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