Facebook: @Skatelandtrinidad @Saveskateland
By Jeremy Cote
Open? Is that an open sign above the Skateland marquee? Is it for another business? What other business could it be? Walking down Trinidad’s Main St. on a warm July afternoon had these questions rolling around my head like a set of white Reidell skates, the four mint-colored Super Grip wheels holding their line in like they were glued to the inside of my skull. With a renewed sense of purpose, and no apparent regard for the nearest crosswalk, I bound across Main with the determination of a beardless mountain goat: I must get in Skateland!
Roller-skating in America gained popularity after the Civil War as an activity for the upper crust of society. Can you imagine ladies and gents whirling around in formal dresses and tuxedoes? Well that is how things rolled until the Labor Laws of the early 20th century curtailed 12-hour days, creating the first “downtime” for the average citizen which could be spent at the rink. Later, the robust post WWII economy saw a shift in demographics as women were now going skating alone with the money they were earning. By far though, the largest roller-boom came from the sounds of Disco as people flocked to rinks to glide along to the up and down beat; think Patrick Swayze’s 1979 debut performance in Skatetown USA. Sadly enough, even with its rich cultural history, roller-skating had faded into a niche activity far from the multi-colored dancing limelight it once occupied.
Opening the glass front door to Skateland, a small personal victory, rewarded me with two smiling faces, half of which were on roller-skates! Behind the counter filled with all the candies and snacks required for this type of fun stood Jaime Primmer, the incredible lady who is fighting to keep the rink, a cornerstone of Trinidad since 1942, open and rolling. As Jaime toured me around the timeless rink, she painted a colorful portrait of how things looked during skating’s heyday. I saw myself being taught how to skate by Bronco Billy Simola, his guidance building my confidence like Trinidad bricks, much how the rest of the town learned their way around the rink during his day. Soon I was gliding across the hardwood floors on my own as one can be in a place filled with 70 years of life and happiness.
As we power into Colorado’s sunny future it is becoming ever more important to maintain what we can of the past. The next time you’re looking for some wholesome fun and adventure pack up the crossover and head to Skateland in Trinidad. Not only will you have an absolute ball of a time, you’ll also be helping preserve a wondrous piece of Colorado history.
If your schedule does not allow a trip to Trinidad, but your red, white, and blue blood is pumping with the need to do something remarkable, take a moment and donate to Skateland through Jaime’s GoFundMe page at: https://www.gofundme.com/jaimeprimmer. It may be your donation that keeps the good times rolling!