Since last June, hundreds of people have gathered at the Swope Park Bandstand on Tuesday evenings to skate or to kick back and watch the pro skaters do their thing. It all started when Carol and Reggie Williams, avid roller skaters, had the idea to start an outdoor roller-skating event during the height of the pandemic.
The free outdoor skating event blew up, and each week more and more people joined in the fun. The park was often packed with cars and vendors selling food and drinks.
The roller skaters made it look easy, as one-by-one they hit the pavement, circling the Swope Park Bandstand to 80s and 90s R&B classics. The regulars had their unique lucky skates that reflected their personalities and a few had their own signature skate move.
“This was our way to cut down on the violence,” said Carol Williams about the weekly skating event. “It’s where everybody can come together without all the killing and shooting that’s been going on. It’s something where the community to come together.”
But beginning Aug. 31, the Tuesday night skate gathering will have a new and safer location better fit for roller skating.
Since the bandstand is not meant for skating, there were concerns about the potential liability for injuries. So, Kansas City Parks and Recreation worked with the Williams to book the Holmes Park hockey rink – which is meant for skating – every Tuesday from 7 to 10 p.m.
Carol said she is pleased with the new location, pointing out that the rink is bigger than the bandstand and smooth to skate on.
The Williams said they want to keep outdoor skating at Holmes Park skating-centered, so they are declining vendors this time.
“My hope for the whole thing is that the skating community can come together — people that love and have the heart for skating,” Carol said.
Reggie Williams said while they had to move locations, they have not had any issues or violence at their events and hope to keep it that way.
“We’d love to take it bigger than this, to where we can go out in the community and lay a rink and let people come and enjoy themselves too,” he said.
If you’re interested in attending the outdoor skating event, the skaters will be out every week until it starts to get too cold, around mid to late October. The event is still free of charge.