PORTLAND — Happy Wheels, the roller-skating rink on Portland’s Warren Avenue, is closing.
The long-time manager of the local landmark says even though business is great, the owners have been trying to sell.
At one time, there were seven Happy Wheels in Maine and New Hampshire. The one in Portland is the last one, but in six weeks, they’ll be closing for good.
“It’s very sad. Sad day,” employee Ann Carter said.
Happy Wheels staff were in tears Thursday.
“Everybody’s upset, but what are you going to do?” manager Danny Dyer said.
The rink opened in 1973, and many families have been going there for generations.
“Kids brought their kids, who brought their kids, and now they’re bringing their kids,” Dyer said.
Amberlynn Esperanza says she made some of her favorite childhood memories at Happy Wheels.
“It’s easy to have my birthday party here, and everyone loved the physical activity as a kid, and having all my classmates here was really an exciting time,” Esperanza said.
“It’s not just a roller-skating rink. It’s a family. It’s community,” said Carter, who hates the thought of kids not having a place to roller skate.
“For a lot of the kids, it’s an every single weekend thing,” Carter said. “It’s going to be a big loss. We try to keep the kids safe. We try to keep them occupied and entertained without being out on the streets and in trouble.”
Word of Happy Wheels’ closing spread quickly on social media.
“The other half over there, her phone’s been blowing up since yesterday,” Dyer said. “I got a call from somebody that’s in California, they got a text. ‘I remember skating there.'”
Soon, it will be the end of an era, leaving families with only memories of this place, but what happy memories they are.
“Seen a lot of people have a lot of fun,” Dyer said.
“For this to be ending, for this to be gone, is not a good thing for everybody,” Carter said.
The last day to skate is Sunday, December 15.
And between now and then, they expect a lot of families will come in for one last skate.