CHAMPION, Ohio (WKBN) – The loss of the Champion Roller Rink early Sunday morning has those in the community in shock.
The roller rink held many memories for the people who grew up in the area.
“This is like all of our memories going up in smoke here, you know. It’s very sad,” said Raymond Kohn, who grew up at the roller rink.
He even met his wife there 27 years ago.
“I’m actually holding back the tears, you know. People’s lives were started here. We were only 13 and 14 years old, but if it wasn’t for this place, I wouldn’t have my three kids that I have now. This place is responsible for my whole life and now it’s gone,” said Kohn.
The fire started around 1:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
The news spread fast and dozens of people stopped to watch the place that held so many fond memories go up in flames.
“My wife and I were sleeping and my daughter came into the bedroom crying and saying the skating rink’s on fire,” said Kohn.
Rick Komray spent many of his days at the roller rink.
He started going in 1995 for the Christian Music Skate Night and enjoyed it so much that he decided to join the roller hockey league.
“My weekends were Friday night. We had sessions Saturday at eight o’clock in the morning until midnight all day long. I basically lived over here,” said Komray.
He was there so much that they started to put him to work and eventually became the disc jockey for the roller rink.
“Friends became family to me. It’s 25 years of memories for me over here,” Komray said.
A lot of people learned how to skate here, including Bradley Kempe.
“It’s a sad moment, a very sad moment. This is a Champion landmark right here. Lots of kids grew up here. This is where we all went to,” said Kempe.
By Sunday afternoon, the flames had gone, but people continued pulling into the parking lot. Cars drove by with their windows down to take pictures and videos of what was once the roller rink.
Champion Skate released a statement on their Facebook page, thanking the community for their support:
Oh behalf of Champion Skate and The Brainard Family, we thank you for your kind words and tremendous outpouring of support. We would like to thank the brave first responders and all those who helped last night. We are very grateful that everyone is safe.
Further updates will follow on both our Facebook page and website. In the interim, if you have any questions regarding parties or outstanding matters, contact us via our communications firm (J. Saul Campbell & Company) at 330.759.4570.
Again, our heartfelt thanks for everyone and please remember, as long as there are memories of joy, all is certainly not lost. They will stay alive in our hearts and we hope they will remain in your. Thank you for sixty years of wonderful.