Every generation has its rites of passage.
Generally, that rite of passage has something to do with what you and your friends did on a Friday or Saturday night as you were growing up, and generally it has to do with how you spent your time with friends before the age of 16.
That’s because once a kid has that driver’s license, the ties that bind start to loosen, and life is forever changed.
But before that time, there is a yearning to be free that is already taking place. You’re too young to drive and be on your own, but you are looking for some place that gives you a glimpse into life as a teenager and adult.
For my generation, that place was the Roller Skating Rink.
My dad introduced me to the roller rink, proud to show me his moves that he’d picked up during his own days of skating at the Doniphan Roller Rink. All dads want to show their kids that yes, they were at one time the epitome of cool. Yeah…Dad was kind of corny, but he did have some pretty epic skate moves. He was actually a much better roller skater than I ever was going to be, at least until I discovered ice skating, which is another set of totally different memories and stories.
One of my landmark birthdays was when my mom and dad allowed me to have my 6th grade birthday party at the roller rink in Jefferson City, where we lived until I was in the 8th grade.
Of course I invited all my friends….girls….and boys! Because there was nothing quite like those first blushes of love when you would take the hand of your crush and roll around that rink holding hands to the beat of bubble gum music. As I recall, Our Song was the Archies’ “Sugar, Sugar”. Of course it was True Love. All my friends signed my Happy Birthday stuffed autograph dog with their well wishes for me.
These are lifelong memories, and every kid had their own version of them.
Jackie Riggins has those memories, too. And now she is the owner of the Puxico Skating Rink, the very place where many of those memories were made. She operates it with her husband, Tom, and her daughter Hannah.
“I was raised in Puxico and graduated with the Puxico Class of 1998. I have deep roots in Puxico,” she is proud to say. Her grandpa was the Marshall for the city for 26 years, and her dad is currently the water superintendent. He has worked for the City of Puxico for over 40 years. He is also a huge help to her in running the Skating Rink.
“He’s really my right hand man,” Riggins says fondly of her dad.
Riggins purchased the skating rink in June of 2015, after 10 years of being a licensed insurance sales producer.
“I had always dreamed of having that skating rink, ever since I was a kid. In the late 80’s, I was there every time the door was open,” recalled Riggins.
The rink was originally built in 1961 by Bud Jones who also owned a small diner on the lot right beside the rink. Once he added the rink, it became so successful that he closed the diner to just focus on the rink.
For over 50 years, the rink has been open almost continuously, closed only for a short time for remodeling. With every day, it welcomes people of all ages who love to skate.
Trends in skating may have come and gone, but Riggins says her rink is still largely “old school”.
“We have a lot of different ages that attend our public skate nights. Fifty to eighty kids are dropped off every weekend night and allowed three hours of skating for just $5 each.
“It’s definitely the happening place for the kids,” she says proudly. Birthday parties are very popular, with a two-hour party for 25 skaters at just $75, including skate rental.
“I love the kids,” smiled Riggins. “It is so much fun watching these kids grow up and have fun. I went to school with a lot of their parents. It’s great to see many of the same faces every weekend.”
There is just nothing like that sense of community found at a local skating rink, and Riggins is proud to be a part of that community.
“I am so glad I bought this business,” she says. “It’s a great place, and I see a lot of improvement for the future.”
Yes…I can still hear The Archies “Sugar, Sugar”.