The Rolla Rena skate rink provides a variety of entertainment, the latest a princess skate, to attract skaters.

Royalty took to wheels Aug. 10 when Rolla Rena hosted a "Princess Skate" with a couple of very special visitors.

Making a royal appearance were "Moana" and "Ariel" who spent time getting photographed with their fans and then participated with some activities on the skate floor.

A couple dozen skaters, mostly little girls, enjoyed skating and got to spend some time with familiar princesses. Many of the participants were dressed as their favorite princess and had a good time whether they were a well practiced skater or a first timer.

The princess event was the latest activity rink owner Kevin Evans took on to keep interest in skating going.

"We're just trying some new things," Evans said.

The roller skate rink has been in Pratt for decades. It is located at 823 North Jackson, north of the Union Pacific tracks and one block west of North U.S. 281 on Pitzer by Lone Star. But with all the other activities available for children, Evans has to come up with special events so the rink can remain alive and healthy.

"If we don't keep busy, we're going to go away," Evans said. "I have to invent new things to get the kids to come."

Some of the previous special guests at the rink have been "Elsa" from "Frozen" and super heroes "Spiderman" and "Wonder Woman."

These special guests come from Princess Pros in Wichita that provide princesses and other characters for parties and other events like the one at Rolla Rena. Pratt resident Brittany Hill works for them and has made appearances at various events. Having a professional business means a variety of characters are available and the costumes are a high quality, Evens said.

The rink wants to expand character choices for future events. They are considering Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and even trolls.

Evans said he wants to try more characters and other special events to get the kids skating and hopefully continue to do it as they get older. He is also making plans for an adult skate to get more people in the door.

Part of the effort to keep the rink relevant includes going to trade shows to keep up on the latest in skates, music, ways to entertain children, how to maintain the facility and other skating related topics.

Another key factor to keeping the skating rink going is support. Many people complain that Pratt needs more things to do. They need to support the businesses to make those options possible.

Bowling alleys are an example of supporting business. Pratt used to have two bowling alleys. One on South Main, the Rose Bowl, in the Kempton Chiropractic building, and one on K-61 that is now the Hamm Auction center. Both used to be very active but as social activities changed, they lost customers and had to close.

Roller skating attendance is like a roller coaster, it tends to move up and down. As one group of children get older hopefully they will eventually get to a point where they will bring their children.

In 2018, Evans will reach a milestone of operating the skating rink for 30 years but the rink has been around a lot longer than that. The first mention of the skating rink on the tax rolls puts it at 1944 or 1945. That was when the building had walls that would swing up to let a breeze in because it had no air conditioning, something that has only recently been added to the building.

The rink is getting ready for school to start and plans are underway for several special events. They are working on a new hours of operation for the fall. Saturday hours will probably be from 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with price ranges from $5 to $8.

Besides regular operating hours and special events like the princess skate, the rink is available for private parties, birthday parties, business sponsored events, family reunions and other events.

Evans said they work with the schools on special events and have been able to donate some of the proceeds to the schools.

@GaleR_Tribune