A Mob City jammer, “CMonster,” skates in a holiday scrimmage at the Everett Skate Deck on Dec. 9, 2018. An online fundraising effort has been started to help support the skating venue during the pandemic. (Anthony Floyd photo)

A Mob City jammer, “CMonster,” skates in a holiday scrimmage at the Everett Skate Deck on Dec. 9, 2018. An online fundraising effort has been started to help support the skating venue during the pandemic. (Anthony Floyd photo)

Skate Deck hopes to open for customers, not take donations

A roller skating coach has launched an online fundraiser, wants to help the place he fears may close.

Ezra Thompson coaches artistic roller skating. He wants to help the Everett Skate Deck, a place he thinks of as home, stay in business.

Ryan Acklus’ family owns the Skate Deck, a roller rink founded 60 years ago by his grandparents. Generations of local kids have found fun and friends there, and Acklus hopes to keep it that way.

That’s not a given, though, as coronavirus restrictions have kept the venue closed to the public for much of the past year. “TEMPORARILY CLOSED” says a hot-pink notice on the Skate Deck website, which also touts “family fun since 1961.”

“Of course you don’t want to see it go, but how long can we stay closed?” said Acklus, who operates the Skate Deck with his brother, Cory Acklus, and their mother Teri Acklus. “I’d be lying if I said we haven’t discussed all that,” he said when asked about the possibility of permanently closing.

Teri Acklus’ parents, Bobbie and Eric Englund, started the rink on California Street, just off Broadway, before moving it in 1976 to the current location near Silver Lake. Today’s Skate Deck not only draws recreational roller skaters, including crowds of school groups and birthday parties, it’s the home of several competitive clubs.

Thompson coaches the Everett Eagles Artistic Skating Team, with about 30 children and teens involved. The Jet City Roller Derby and the Mob City Junior Roller Derby are based at the Skate Deck too, as is the Puget Sound Inline Hockey League. Competitions have been halted by COVID-19 precautions, Thompson said.

Coach “Bombshell” helps Mob City skater Evilyna with her jersey before a Mob City holiday scrimmage at the Everett Skate Deck on Dec. 9, 2018. An online fundraising effort has been started to help support the skating venue during the pandemic. (Anthony Floyd photo)

Coach “Bombshell” helps Mob City skater Evilyna with her jersey before a Mob City holiday scrimmage at the Everett Skate Deck on Dec. 9, 2018. An online fundraising effort has been started to help support the skating venue during the pandemic. (Anthony Floyd photo)

With the aim of supporting the place he loves — and assuring the survival of his workplace — Thompson, 44, launched a crowdfunding effort on the GoFundMe website. As of Friday afternoon, $11,403 had been pledged by 108 donors to the fundraiser, titled “Roll it Forward!!! Support the Everett Skate Deck.” The goal is $50,000.

“It’s been hit really hard through this whole thing. It’s super sad,” said Thompson. The Skate Deck has “given to this community for years and years. I’d like to see the community come together to help,” he said.

Ryan Acklus, though, would rather the Skate Deck not take the money. He hopes the business will soon be allowed to reopen, and wants contributions to be returned to all those generous donors — so they’ll use that money to come back as Skate Deck customers.

“We do not want to use that money,” said Acklus, who nevertheless acknowledged “it’s an awesome show of support.”

Acklus, 43, said the business received some COVID relief funds, “a drop in the bucket,” at the start of the pandemic, but that nearly all employees, including some family members, have lost their jobs. “At the peak, we had 20 to 25 employees. Most are kids,” he said. Only a manager and a maintenance person stayed on, he said.

The Skate Deck was allowed to open for a short time, during which Acklus said limits on customer numbers were strictly followed. Currently, as small private groups, some club members are skating, Thompson said.

Acklus sees disparity as big box stores are allowed to be open, while his family’s business — with a large space needed for social distancing — remains shuttered.

Niki Desautels, 38, helps run the Mob City Junior Roller Derby, and coaches one of its teams, the Mob City Misfits. A rink veteran, she skated 10 years with the Jet City Roller Derby before becoming a coach. Like Thompson, she loves the Skate Deck, an Everett institution.

The Jet City Bombers vs. the Palouse River Rollers at the Everett Skate Deck on Aug. 5, 2018. An online fundraising effort has been started to help support the roller skating venue during the pandemic. (R.L. Robertson photo)

The Jet City Bombers vs. the Palouse River Rollers at the Everett Skate Deck on Aug. 5, 2018. An online fundraising effort has been started to help support the roller skating venue during the pandemic. (R.L. Robertson photo)

“I grew up in Snohomish County. I used to go to the Skate Deck all the time,” she said. “I loved roller skating as a kid. In my 20s, I was looking for a new hobby and decided to give it a go.” As many as five nights a week, roller derby has kept her at the rink. “It’s like coming into your home,” Desautels said.

Kids ages 5 to 18 are part of Mob City Junior Roller Derby, with three groups — the Goons, the Punks and the Misfits — determined by age and skill level, she said.

Although she fears the future of her home rink may be in jeopardy, Desautels hasn’t “gone down that road” of looking for another place to skate and coach. The Skate Deck, she said, is “kind of a second home.”

On occasion during the shutdown, Ryan Acklus said he’s arrived to find kids waiting outside the Skate Deck, wondering if their favorite place is open.

“Kids make those friendships. It’s a really familiar, comfortable place to be, when maybe they don’t feel they can be themselves anyplace else,” said Desautels. “We call ourselves a family — the Skate Deck family.”

Julie Muhlstein: jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com

How to help

An online fundraiser has been launched on GoFundMe to help the Everett Skate Deck, a roller rink affected by coronavirus closures. To learn more or donate, go to www.gofundme.com and search for: Roll it Forward!!! Support the Everett Skate Deck

Talk to us

More in Local News

Paul McElhany points out how far the new building will extend past the current building at Northwest Fisheries Science Center's Mukilteo Research Station on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 in Mukilteo, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Oh, crab! NOAA’s Mukilteo waterfront fish lab won’t be rebuilt

Bids for a new Northwest Fisheries Science Center research station are too high. Are condos next?

Austin Johnson, 26 years-old, trains on the Centennial Trail in Lake Stevens and is planning to do a 24-hour run to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
24 hours, 80 miles, $23k raised for mental health

Austin Johnson completes a 24-hour run along the Centennial Trail to raise money for suicide prevention.

A pre-loaded syringe with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine sits on the table for the next person in line during a vaccine clinic as South Pointe Assisted Living on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Snohomish County to receive its largest shipment of vaccines

Even as case counts drop, researchers are finding a growing number of COVID variants in the state.

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney during an interview at the sheriff’s department June 17, 2020. (Sue Misao / The Herald)
Auditor denies Fortney recall group the extra time it seeks

He said he could extend the deadline for signature gathering if ordered by a court or the Governor.

Everett man identified after being found dead in creek

The cause of death for Renee Baltazar Romero remained under investigation Thursday.

Everett man found dead in creek near Lake Stevens

The man, 28, was reported missing Thursday. A neighbor found his body in Little Pilchuck Creek.

Autopsy shows Lake Stevens woman, 20, drowned Saturday

Anna M. Lopez was swimming when witnesses noticed she was not responsive, according to officials.

Joe Hempel swims off of the shore of Seawall Park on Friday, Jan. 29, 2021 in Langley, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Scantily clad is the dress code for these cold rush swimmers

Immersed for 30 minutes in frigid water would kill most of us. It energizes these swimmers.

Gerry Betz makes bread at his home Saturday morning in Everett on February 20, 2021. Betz is the Community Loaves coordinator of the Everett Hub. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Hobbyists and pros bake homemade bread to donate in Everett

Community Loaves delivers the fresh goods to groups helping those who are experiencing food insecurity.

Most Read