Milford Skating Center celebrated their grand re-opening in spectacular fashion on Saturday, September 8. The celebration began with a ribbon cutting attended by Mayor Ronnie Rogers, owner Carmen Kemper, her staff and members of the Southern Delaware Roller Girls. The skating center was the site of “Uncivil War,” the first roller derby bout for the roller derby club, which was formed in April 2011. The center also held a free skate from 1 to 4 p.m. in celebration of the grand re-opening.
Milford Skating Center opened in 1982, owned at the time by Charles Wahleg, who also owned Delaware Skating Centers in Dover and Christiana. The center opened in what was once the W.T. Grant Building, which had been vacant since the company filed bankruptcy in 1976. The building, now owned by Silicato Development, Inc., was eventually subdivided into smaller retail stores with the back section becoming what is now Milford Skating Center.
Mr. Wahleg owned the skating center until 1987 when Debbie LaVere purchased the business. Phil Smalley acted as General Manager from 1982 to 1992. Charles Gray was General Manager from 1992 until 1998. Carmen Kemper began working at the center in 1984, becoming General Manager in 1998, before taking over ownership of the company. Operating the center is a family affair as Carmen’s brother, Charles, and parents, Jim and Marie, are often present at the rink, working the snack bar, skate rentals or skating with the patrons.
Over the past few months, Milford Skating Center has been closed for renovations and now boasts freshly painted walls, a completely resurfaced skating floor and other updated amenities. In addition, Carmen has increased programs at the rink, some of which are non-skating activities. Teen dances, Zumba classes, and adult dodge ball are just a few of the programs now offered at the center. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 to 11 am, the center hosts the Downtown Walk Around which allows seniors to walk around the rink floor, out of the elements, for exercise.
Community service is important for Milford Skating Center as well. Carmen held a benefit for two families who had been displaced due to fire. The Benson family of Milford and the Walton family of Felton were both beneficiaries of fund raisers at the center, and with assistance from Country Life Homes, along with Second Chance Thrift Store, Milford Skating Center was able to help the families get a fresh start after the tragedies.
Carmen also proudly says that she is a member of the Dead Skater’s Club. During club events, an organist plays in the traditional style that many remember from old-fashioned roller rinks and the group “shuffle skates to the music.” Members travel from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey to attend the events, bringing their mascot “Bones” who must be seen to be believed. While in the area, they stay in local hotels, frequent local restaurants and arrange to tour an attraction in the area. The goal of the group is to keep roller rinks and organ music skating alive while supporting the local community where the rinks are located.
Carmen has temporarily suspended roller hockey at the skating center, but hopes to bring it back at a later date. After-school skates will continue for this school year, and the center also offers a Family Super Pack every Tuesday. For $25, a family of five receives pizza, beverages, skate rental and admission. Milford Skating Center offers birthday party and private party packages, along with a regular open skate schedule.