Maile Matubrew, 7, is giving it her best shot. But her legs, wobbly on her first time ever roller skating, keep splaying out beneath her and down she goes, as if she's slipping on banana peels.
Mom Deirdre Killebrew, a Stony Brook University faculty member from East Setauket, tries to help her daughter stay on her skates at the new outdoor roller rink at the Port Jefferson Village Center. Both are enjoying themselves. "She reminds me of a baby deer when it's first starting to walk," Killebrew says. She looks at Maile. "Remember 'Bambi'?" she asks.
Lots of "baby deer" were out on the new rink one recent afternoon. It's run by the Hauppauge-based Rinx company. During the winter, the rink at Port Jefferson is an ice-skating facility. But manager Taylor Schwab says the business got requests from skaters for a roller skating rink during the summer months. "There really aren't any around," he says.
The rink opened in April, and business has increased with the improved weather and as the word is getting out, Schwab says. There's no minimum age to skate; the rink has 320 pairs of traditional four-wheel quad skates and in-line skates available in sizes 8 toddler to 13 adult, Schwab says.
The Rinx has Port Jefferson town approval to remain open through July 25. "What we're hoping is that there's a good enough demand for it to keep us open until the end of August," says Tom Palamara, executive vice president. The Rinx has had more than 3,000 customers so far, he says.
One recent customer was Tammy Adams, 46, a high-school English teacher from Selden. "I haven't roller skated in probably 20 years. I just wanted to try it," Adams says. She's skating with her son Patrick, 10, and daughter Zoe, 4. "I just hope I can stay up to keep her up," Adams says.
Patrick's initial strategy: "I'm going to hold onto the side."
Skater Chris Pinkenburg, a 53-year-old physicist who lives in Rocky Point, says the skating brings back memories of his childhood in Frankfurt, Germany. "Everyone had roller skates at home," he says. "You had scraped knees at age 5." He was happy to find that he could still skate -- he did better than his teenage son, Jade, he says. Jade agrees.
"It's fun, but I'm not very good," says Jade, 14, a freshman at Rocky Point High School. The key, he says? "Balance. Putting one foot in front of the other. It's hard, even though it's kind of simple."
Roller Skating on the Harbor
WHEN | WHERE Open daily through July 25 at The Rinx on the Harbor at Port Jefferson Village Center, 101-A E. Broadway, Port Jefferson
INFO 631-403-4357; therinx.com/roller
COST $11 for a 90-minute session, $8.50 ages 11 and younger, $12 8-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday sessions; bring your own skates or rent either quad wheeled or in-line skates for $5.50.
OTHER RINKS OFFERING PUBLIC ROLLER SKATING
WHEN | WHERE Open daily, 1276 Hicksville Rd., Seaford
INFO 516-795-5474, unitedskates.com/seaford
COST $1-$11 a session; $5 skate rental
"We just redid our entire building with glow-in-the-dark murals," says Lauren Fink, sales manager. Skaters will see the Empire State Building with King Kong, the Statue of Liberty, logos of the Yankees and other sports teams, a subway train and more. Tuesday evenings from 6:30 to 9:30 are Affordable Family Fun nights, with admission $1 a person. Bring your own quad or in-line skates, or rent a pair.
Hot Skates Roller Skating Rink
WHEN | WHERE Open daily, 14 Merrick Rd., Lynbrook
INFO 516-593-1300, hotskates.com
COST $11-$12 admission, $4 skate rental
The rink has been around for 35 years. It was featured on ABC's "The Bachelorette" in 2010, when Ashley Hebert visited suitor J.P. Rosenbaum's Roslyn hometown, and the two had a roller skating date. They are now married.