Skate park to close
In the past four years of skating, working and volunteering at Midwest Skate Shop and Indoor Skate Park in Rochester, James McGee, 21, said he learned more tricks than he ever dreamed of. He also learned respect, loyalty, friendship and leadership.
"It made me the person I am today," he said.
That's why when the skate park closes Saturday, McGee said, "It will be the hardest day of my life."
Terry Schroeder opened Midwest Skate Shop in November 2006 after seeing the impact that Board to Death Sports indoor skate park, which closed that January, had on his son Michael and his son's friends, including McGee.
And while it's mostly a new group of skaters this time around, the closing of the skate park is causing the same pain.
"They are really devastated," Schroeder said of the regular customers.
Yet, even with the addition of concerts and some fundraisers, there's just not enough money to keep it open, he said.
This year's early spring and nice summer, which drew skaters to the free outdoor skate park at Silver Lake Park, marked the end for the indoor park, he said.
"It really weighed heavily on me all this year," said Schroeder, who is walking away with $25,000 worth of debt.
The closing also weighs on McGee, who's been a part of the park since its first day.
His best memories come from the skate park, including traveling to competitions around the region in Schroeder's motor home, he said. The group became like a family, and Midwest was their home.
The free outdoor skate park doesn't have the same feeling, McGee said. People hang out there that don't even skate, he said, whereas the indoor park was a safe, supervised place for young skaters.
Skaters now won't have that place, he said. Yet he's grateful for the opportunities that Midwest provided for him and so many others.
"Terry is like a father figure to me," McGee said. "I appreciate everything he'd done for us."