EVERETT — Joseph Cordell’s scuffed red roller skates were on fire Sunday. The 25-year-old has been coming to Everett’s Skate Deck since he could walk.
“I’ve been here longer than they’ve had Coke products here,” he said. “These people are more of a family than my real family.”
On Sunday, he joined a packed house in one final lap around the much-loved wood floor at 9700 19th Ave. SE.
After 61 years in business, it was Skate Deck’s last public skate. Colorful lights flashed and “Kool & The Gang” jams blared over the stereo system. Young kids held hands, teenagers giggled, pros showed off their footwork and old-timers cruised around in Skate Deck T-shirts.
Meanwhile, owners held back tears. The business was founded in 1961, and has been passed down through the generations.
“It’s hard to say goodbye to a community, you know?” said Ryan Acklus, who runs the rink with his brother and mom. “Kids come from a lot of different backgrounds, and this is a safe space for them … this is what chokes me up.”
Acklus’ cousin, Nicole Warnock, said they grew up as “rink babies.” Sometimes the kids would nap upstairs despite funk and pop music reverberating through the walls. Their parents and grandparents worked down below.
Warnock remembers finding her first-ever cassette tape in the lost and found here. She hid it somewhere around the rink to listen to later.
Warnock laughed telling the story. She dabbed her eyes with a tissue.
The pandemic took a toll on business. And after shuttering the rink for months, the family decided to sell. Skate Deck and the nearby Alfy’s will soon be demolished. A Bothell developer is planning to erect 85 townhomes.
The news elicited hundreds of reactions online, with locals rushing to plan a final visit, reflecting on generations of skating and wondering if a new location could be scouted. In the past few weeks, Acklus said business has been booming.
“It’s sad it’s going away,” said Braden Landon, who’s been coming here since childhood. On Sunday, he watched as his friends’ young children clung to PVC skate trainers and gleefully bunny-hopped in their skates.
“Why are you guys taking this down?” one girl asked. “I want to come back for my birthday.”
On the other side of the rink, Stephanie Fisher stared wistfully at her new golden and glittery skates.
“I just bought these a couple weeks ago,” she said.
After 20 years off the rink, Fisher is trying to get back into the sport. Now, she’ll likely spend the summer skating outside. She’s crossing her fingers for clear skies.
Owners are on the hunt for a new location. But a tight real estate market makes for an uphill battle. Acklus hopes to save the hand-turned maple rotunda floor before the building gets demolished. Each piece of wood was steamed and bent, so the wood grain follows skaters’ wheels.
“There’s not many of these left,” Acklus said.
For now, there’s much to say goodbye to: the rows and rows of orange-wheeled rental skates. The “Skate Deck Express” school buses that used to pick up kids for overnight skate sessions. And decades of memories.
“Where do we even start?” Warnock said.
As for Cordell, he’ll keep rolling at other rinks in Washington. He’s been to almost every one in the state, and DJed at a handful, too.
“But when I picture myself trying a new move, or working on something, I don’t picture myself at the Federal Way rink, or in Portland or anywhere else,” he said. “Every time, I picture myself in this rink. This place by far holds a special place in my heart.”