Love at first skate: Iconic roller rink brought community together, now closing after 53 years
Calgary's Lloyd’s Recreation was recently sold after the property owners, Lloyd and Flo Cooper, passed away. The last public skating session will be on Feb. 18.
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
Debbie Shipley Nance has been going to Lloyd’s Recreation at least once a week for the past 25 years.
Her first job was at the Calgary roller rink, where she worked to pay for her skating equipment.
It’s where she met some of her closest friends, and her husband – and where he proposed.
But this Sunday, Shipley Nance will lace up her roller skates at the iconic rink for the last time.
“There’ll be a lot of tears,” the speed and rhythm skating enthusiast said.
“I take some comfort in the memories I have, and the friendships I’ll carry forward, but it is heartbreaking.”
In September, Lloyd’s – which opened its doors in 1964 – announced it would be shutting down after the property owners, Lloyd and Flo Cooper, passed away.
“Thank you to all of our loyal customers over the last 53 years,” a statement on the rink’s website reads.
“The property has been sold, the proceeds will go to charity. Our last public skating session will run Sunday February 18th.”
The proceeds will be given to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation and Calgary Health Trust, which the Coopers routinely gave to throughout their marriage.
Shipley Nance said the couple was never in it for the money – it was about community, and a deep love of roller skating.
“They were great people. Anybody who knew them knew their whole heart was in that rink – they wanted it to be about the people, and I truly appreciate that about them,” she said.
“I will forever be grateful for everything they (and the staff) did and gave for the rink. I could never say thank you enough.”
Her own love affair with roller skating began when she was 10.
“It was love at first skate, so to speak,” Shipley Nance said.
“But it’s not just the rollerskating – it’s the whole community. Lloyd’s is a home that brings everybody together.”
When she was a teenager, Shipley Nance knocked out her front teeth during an evening skate session, and had to be taken to hospital.
But not even a broken nose could keep her away from the rink.
“I was wearing khakis and a white shirt that was covered in blood when I walked in, I think I scared a lot of people,” Shipley Nance recalled.
“But I had 30 minutes left, and I really wanted to finish skating … actually that’s how I made a lot of my friends that night, because people couldn’t believe I came back to finish the session.”
There are likely to be a lot of tears shed this weekend, as Calgary bids goodbye to the iconic rollercade, which hosted thousands of birthday parties and other events over the years.
Shipley Nance said it’s hard to image a life without the rink, but is grateful to have "her skating family."
“The music, the people, the skating – it’s a combination you can’t get anywhere else. It’s hard to describe other than home,” she said. "It's shaped who I am, who so many of us are."
The final skate is on Sunday, Feb. 18 from 1 – 6 p.m. Admission is $7.