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Fifteen-year-old Maddie Wolfe hugs the wall as she takes a wobbly lap around the Ice Box rink. The wheels on her colorful pair of quad roller skates click against the concrete as she readjusts her footing.

She's just about made it to her friend Mariah Janssen, also 15, when her foot suddenly shoots forward. Her arms wave wildly in the air as she starts to fall and she just manages to catch the wall before crashing to the floor.

"Yeah, I've fallen a few times," Wolfe says. "But it's still fun."

Wolfe and her friends are among the first wave of kids and families on summer break who are enjoying the new open roller skating at the Ice Box.

Announced in May, about 25 people on average have shown up each day in the morning and early afternoon for the sessions, according to Lori Crocker, director of business operations for the Lincoln Stars.

"It gives the kids something to do in the summer that's not a video game," she said. "It's a physical activity and it's fun to do with friends."

The finished concrete floor is approximately 18,000 square feet and the Ice Box has 230 pairs of rental skates.

For $5, each skater gets admission and a pair of skates. The weekly schedule alternates between 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and noon to 3 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

"We would like possibly to have roller skating all day, every day," Crocker said. "But we'll just see how often people come out."

Starting June 21, Fridays will have cosmic skating. The lights will dim and spinning, colored lights will flash across the floor as a DJ jams from the penalty box. Nimble skaters will even have a few games to play, Crocker said.

"If you can limbo on roller skates, we'll get you some prizes," she said. 

The temporary rink is the only option for roller skaters in Lincoln since Skate Zone closed in 2017. Its absence left a peculiar void in Lincoln, the home of USA Roller Sports, the National Museum of Roller Skating and the No Coast Derby Girls roller derby team. The city has also hosted the USA Roller Sports National Championships more times than any other city. 

After making the announcement that the Ice Box would try to fill the void, Crocker said interest has spiked.

"We've had a lot of people call, and we already have three birthday parties booked," she said. "I think we get a couple calls at least every day asking about it."

Since opening, Crocker said skaters have enjoyed the public sessions.

"We had a couple girls down here the other day who showed up when we opened and didn't leave until we closed it," she said.

The decision to open the rink for public roller skating is part of the Stars management's push to make the Ice Box into an all-purpose venue rather than just a hockey rink. Crocker said the facility hopes to host more concerts, activities and events, including a car show later this month.

"This is a really nice place, and we want people to come enjoy it and realize it's not just for hockey," she said.

And for those such as Janssen and Wolfe, the Ice Box rink is a welcoming chance for them to brush up on their rusty skating skills and spend time with family.

"I used to go to Skate Zone with my family, and I missed it," Wolfe said. "But here's cheaper and we can come here now together."

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7214 or eclopton@journalstar.com.

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City desk intern

2019 city desk intern at the Journal Star

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