Lace up the boots, roll on skates, rock to music

By Steve Palisin



Seven children arrived after school on Wednesday, ready to roll, for lessons on skates. Within an hour, their wheels were whirling on the shiny wood floor at Fun Warehouse, between Surfside Beach and Socastee, and the group found fun in this form of fitness and recreation.

Richard Kerner – known as “Mr. Rich” at the rink – always starts each weekly session on carpet, showing how to get up after a fall, one knee at a time, by putting his hand on his first knee up, then pushing easily to stand again.

An avid skater since the 1960s – who also played ice hockey in his native Missouri, while rooting for the St. Louis Blues – Kerner pointed his feet in a V-like formation, showing the youth how to step forward, and up slightly, to find that sequence and comfort level to glide.

“Don’t let your hands go way up,” he said in showing how staying over one’s center of gravity helps with balance.

One by one, the youth lined up and rolled onto the floor, each with a “trainer,” a wheeled, vertical platform to grip, to better find that feeling for gliding on skates. Soon, the children were scattered all around the rink, some quicker than others to gradually shed the trainer and skate on their own two feet. In the end, all were smiling, as Kerner, constantly scanning the whole rink, checked on each participant, always with encouragement, letting each have his or her own practice time to experiment and find their own groove to move, and try to do five laps.

Rewards of grandparenthood also roll

Standing along a rail, Carolyn Sackett of Surfside Beach video recorded and watched her two grandchildren – Thomas Wolf, 11, and Megan Wolf, 7 – each spread out across the rink in their first lesson each, thanks to Kerner’s guidance and instilled confidence. A former high school and college basketball player who appreciates the pleasure and benefits of fitness, Sackett was happy to indulge her kin, who voiced interest in trying out this exercise, and she said she figured the pair would take another skating lesson.

Thomas Wolf did some rounds without a trainer.

“I didn’t think I could do it,” he said while passing by his grandma on a curve, “but I can.”

Kerner said mostly youngsters turn out for these $5 weekly lessons, which include skate rental and last as long as an hour, but adults who want to learn – “or if you think you forgot how” – to skate, are welcome.

Originally a speed skater and still into bicycling, Kerner said on skates, he’s basically back to standard “quads,” with four wheels under each boot, also the structure for speed skates, but with a lower-cut boot and bigger wheels.

Before the lessons, skating around each corner, in the standard counter-clockwise direction, Kerner showed the process to build toward the ability to cross over a leg, first by bending more on the left knee and stepping and lifting with the other leg.

He said parents who bring their children to skate in public sessions or for school or birthday parties don’t have to sit and watch; they can get out there, too, and share in this activity, magnified with music – including oldies on “Throwback Thursdays” – colorful lights and smiles.

Skating brings ‘wings on your feet’

Tom Russo of Myrtle Beach spent about two hours Wednesday at the rink, a workout he enjoys at least twice a week. Wheeling around at a steady pace, he said like ice rinks and baseball fields, every roller rink has its own character and touch.

Warming up, he said, “you find your legs and get a feel of the floor.”

With running as his primary recreation for four decades until knee issues spurred a shift in his fitness regimen, Russo said he “grew up on ice skates” in his native Chicago. Having roller and in-line skated on and off since retiring here, he said he picked up roller skating again last summer, as part of his cross-training circuit balanced with bicycling, spinning, walking, and weightlifting.

Rolling on skates, he called the activity “wholesome,” as a family activity, and for working out, because its use of so many of the muscles in the body, especially the “quads,” or thighs, and the “core,” he said, pointing toward his abdomen. He also finds that skating kind of combines his routines of fitness, working out the “same muscle groups.”

In the rink, Russo said, “exhilaration, with speed in a controlled atmosphere,” comes easily, and the skates become the “wings on your feet.”

“It gives me the adrenaline rush I used to get from running,” he said.

He also remembered his mother’s fondness for, and memories of, roller skating, its onetime, live pipe-organ pop music that carried over from the silent movie era, and how the sport and pastime from World War II through the 1950s, had its “golden age,” a story about which he said also wants to chronicle in writing.

Go-carts join menu with skating, laser tag

Tim Marks, owner of Fun Warehouse – the Grand Strand’s sole remaining roller rink – which his family reopened in November 2010 as a family entertainment center that includes laser tag, said patrons will see the completion of the expansion in square footage by 15,000 to 56,000, probably by the end of April. The biggest part of the project entails adding an indoor-outdoor track with 30 all-electric go-carts, with heats of 15 at a time, each with three opportunities to power up turbos. In case of inclement weather, the outside portion can be closed and racing will continue inside.

Marks said with enhanced safeguards and monitoring by attendants, they can have every rider slow down in a caution mode to 5 mph in case someone in a spin-out needs to reverse his or her vehicle and get back on track.

Renovations inside, including a new building entrance, carpet, addition of an ice cream parlor, and relocation of the arcade, as well as moving the parking lots, “are pretty well done,” Marks said.

With the go-cart area reaching north from the building with a curve along the sidewalk of S.C. 544, Fun Warehouse also will gain greater visibility from highway traffic, just in time for tourism season. Marks, who grew up in Myrtle Beach after his father, Richard Marks, moved the family here, said with the main building set off from the road, many people might not realize a roller rink and family entertainment enterprise exists.

“When people drive by,” he said, “and the tourists are rolling in, they’ll see the go-carts coming almost right at them.”

Skaters also might appreciate another improvement made inside, refinishing of the skating floor last week, Marks said, so it will “glow in the dark.”

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 843-444-1764.

If you go

Fun Warehouse

WHERE: 2349 Dick Pond Road (S.C. 544), near Surfside Beach, a half-mile east of U.S. 17 Bypass.

OPEN: Daily – 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturdays, and noon-9 p.m. Sundays – and starting March 25, staying open one hour later Sundays-Thursdays during schools’ spring break.


▪ Skating – $8.50 unlimited for day.

▪ Skate rentals (bring socks, which are required) – $2 for regular pair, $3 speed skates, $4 inline.

▪ Inflatables, for ages 10 and younger, with socks required – $8.50 all-day wristband.

▪ Laser tag – $8.50 first game, and $4.50 each additional game.

▪ “Funlimited Pass” – $25 per day, covering unlimited skating (including regular skate rental), laser tag, inflatables (for ages 10 and younger), one slice of pizza, one beverage, and $5 bonus game card.


▪ Beginner classes available, 5:30p.m. Wednesdays, for all ages, with Richard Kerner, for $5, including skate rental.

▪ “Family Skate Night,” 5 p.m. this Friday – $38 admission and basic skate rentals for family of four, including four games of bowling large cheese pizza, and four beverages. Also, $7.95 for each additional family member.

▪ “Sunday Fun Pass” – 5 p.m. Sundays in March, $10 for unlimited skating, laser tag, and inflatables; skate rental extra.

▪ $2 Tuesday – For skating all day on March 22; slate rental extra.

▪ Visit kidsskatefree.com for free skating passes to Fun Warehouse.

INFORMATION: 843-748-0302 or www.funwarehousemb.com


WHERE: 125 N. Beltline Drive, Florence, north from David McLeod Boulevard (Interstate 20 Spur)

OPEN: Several days weekly; check for updates, especially for spring break.

INFORMATION: 843-669-7655 (ROLL) or www.skateflorence.com

Roller derby league rolls on

WHO: Palmetto Street Rollergirls, a flat-track derby league for adult women.

WHAT, WHEN AND WHERE: Practices 9 a.m.-noon Sundays and 5-7 p.m. Wednesdays, at The X Sports Mall, 568 George Bishop Parkway, between U.S. 17 Bypass and U.S. 501, just west of Myrtle Beach.


▪ Seeking new skaters, as well as referees, nonskating officials, and volunteers – of either gender – with training and coaching provided.

▪ All games so far this year at opposing teams’ venues, until a new site for a home venue is found.

▪ Collection of used shoes –men’s, women’s and children’s – for fundraiser, through April 1, during practices at X Sports Mall, and during business hours at Solar Solutions By Tami (window tinting service), 4270 U.S. 501 W., Conway (843-365-2901).

INFORMATION: palmettostaterollergirls.com, or email psrg@mail.com.