With one hand, a grinning state Rep. Dwight Evans swung open the doors at the Simons Recreation Center ice rink in the West Oak Lane heart of his district Friday night.
And with that motion, the buzz of the zamboni and the blast of cold air greeted those waiting to get inside for Family Fun Night.
“I used to come here with my shoes and try to get on the ice,” he said, reminiscing about his childhood, when it was an open-air rink. “But, now you can see how its evolved and modernized, the same thing you would see with any professional ice-skating rink. It’s progress.”
Now under a roof, the rink was open to the public and there were arts-and-crafts activities, line dancing and cooking lessons going on during the 15th annual event hosted by Evans’ office to commemorate Black History Month.
“We want to bring families together, come out and have some fun,” he said, specifying that the event encouraged parents to spend time with their children.
Time to bond
That’s exactly what Zulay Galban, a nurse from North Philadelphia, and her family were looking to do.
“They’ve been dying to come to the ice skating rink,” she said while watching her son Isaiah and six-year old daughter Zaydain cling to the rink’s walls before falling. “It’s actually their first time ice-skating. My son is three and he’s right over there on the floor. They’re actually both on the floor now, enjoying the ice.”
Galban laughed with that last line, but noted she won’t coddle them; after all, they’ve got to learn how to do it themselves.
Serious business, too
For the adults in attendance, a panel discussion kicked off the night with local entrepreneurs offering advice gleaned from their small-business experiences.
The owner of Le Pink Pooch pet-grooming salon in West Oak Lane, Corby Johnson said she feels fortunate to employ members of her family and friends, but warns that there is no security being a sole proprietor.
“It’s really hard. Sometimes, you wake up and you don’t know where your check is gonna come from,” she said lamenting the loss of paid vacation and sick days she had while working at PetSmart.
Meanwhile Pretty BoyZZ barbershop owner Bruce Burton said that after 15 years of sacrifices — like living in his shop basement and working odd jobs while starting his company — he’s finally sitting pretty.
“Right now while I’m sitting here, I’m making money,” he said, explaining that his shop had hair appointments booked into the night.
Some audience members were inspired like Marilyn Edmond, who said she is almost ready to open a new business.
Said the West Oak Lane social worker and long-time teacher of “Bop,” the jazzy swing dance which City Council declared the official city groove, “I want to retire into something of my own.”