Let the Good Times Roll: Skating rink celebrates 50 years

Published 3:01 pm Thursday, November 3, 2022

BROOKHAVEN — Dewayne Nettles Jr. remembers following his father around as a kid. They traveled from town to town with a portable skating rink in 1959. On November 3, 1972, they had completed a skating rink in Brookhaven close to the family home, a concrete igloo that is tornado proof. 

They are both still standing 50 years after the rink opened. Dewayne Nettles Sr. and his wife Louise died in 2015 just months apart. Robbie Nettles is now the third generation of the family owning the rink on Calcote Loop. Brookhaven Skating Rink 3G is more than a skating rink, it is a place for family and community. 

Nettles Jr. said his dad would set up the portable rink for weeks until they eventually brought in less money and then move on to the next town using a semi-truck. He has a bit of ramble in his shoes which might have pushed him to join the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Unit and he continues to stay busy by working at DoorDash. The man was joined by his wife Terri who he met at the rink, and his sister Delores Havard. 

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Harvard and her husband Ronny owned the rink from 2009 to 2017. They entrusted Robbie to continue the tradition and sold the business to him in 2017. 

“I’m so proud to be a part of my dad’s legacy,” Havard said. “It is exciting to see it still going. My daddy and Mrs. Louise was here to celebrate the 40th anniversary before they passed. Fortunately, we are alive and well to celebrate the 50th anniversary. My nephew is continuing on the tradition and we are so proud.” 

Robbie bought the rink when he turned 30. He said he started out working as an x-ray technician and continues to go to Merit Health Central two days out of the week to do x-rays. On his street, he bought homes as rental properties because he didn’t know what to do. 

When the opportunity came to purchase the skating rink business, he took it. Leigh Ann Martin at First Bank Brookhaven was the loan officer he called and within four hours the deal was done. He said the homes he owned were used as collateral for the deal.

“It was a part of God’s plan. Leigh Ann was a big part of our testimony,” Robbie said. “It’s nice. When I bought it my aunt had done a good job keeping it up. I’ve been working on making improvements. I had a big list of things I wanted to get done before today.”

His sister Heather Watson works now as a DJ at the rink. She is joined in the booth by a doll that has roller skates. It is taken by single people who need a partner for the couples dances, she said. 

Robbie was about 10 when he got his first pair of roller skates and a dent in the wall is due to him flying off of his dad’s back. It knocked him out. His sister said they spent a lot of time at the skating rink and they continue to do so. Robbie said the rink has become a place where he can be a sort of youth leader for the kids, they trust him and come to the rink as a safe place. 

Brookhaven Skating Rink is open on Fridays from 6:00 to 10p.m., on Saturdays from 2 to 4p.m. and 6:00 to 10p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 4p.m. They sell out of pickle pops and Heather has a list of song requests to keep up with. An arcade with Buckmaster, air hockey and pool sits off to the corner for those not wanting to skate. There is also a party area. 

Let the Good Times Roll has been the motto of the rink since it first opened. Those good times continue to roll with a Mardi Gras paint scheme of red, green, yellow, purple, blue and orange. Much of the pain in the building is all original, Heather said. Robbie is still working to paint new fresh coats of paint, add better lighting in addition to upgrades he does not want to reveal to the public yet. 

DJ Big Mama changed up the music from present day pop to classic tunes from the 70’s and 80’s. Martin laced up a pair of roller skates and stepped out onto the rink. Her last time skating was at the celebration of Robbie taking over the business. It all came back to her as she moved her feet out on the rink with disco lights flashing. 

“I remember skating here as a kid growing up. We would go off the rink under the bars,” Martin said. “We would play this balloon game where it was tied to your skates. You had to go around and pop everyone elses and keep yours safe to win. I won it once and it was like the best day ever. I grew up coming here and Robbie has made a lot of improvements.” 

Those improvements will hopefully continue and it is all thanks to the community who have supported the rink. Let the good times roll and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the rink this weekend.