Children meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus at Skate Country

PARKERSBURG – Over 100 children had the chance to meet with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Saturday to give him any last-minute additions to their Christmas wish lists.

They also had the chance to skate – and do the Hokey Pokey – with Santa as he met with them at the Skate Country skating rink in south Parkersburg.

Mark Kimes, who has owned and operated skating rinks in Parkersburg with his wife Kim since 1977, said the holiday “Skate with Santa” event has been a tradition since their first year as rink operators. The Kimes were owners of the old Coliseum skating rink on Seventh Street for seven years before they closed it and opened Skate Country.

“During the month of December, it’s one of our most popular events for skating, especially for the little ones,” he said of Saturday’s event.

Ronda Sprouse, of Parkersburg, had her five grandchildren at Skate Country on Saturday to meet with Santa Claus and to enjoy the chance to skate.

“We bring them every year” for the “Skate with Santa” event, Sprouse said of the family. “It’s a safe environment.”

Elaine Hissem, of Parkersburg, brought her 6-year-old grandson, Gabriel Hissam of Charleston, to Skate Country on Saturday to skate and meet with Santa Claus.

“We love it,” she said of Saturday’s holiday event. “We come all of the time and we’ve been coming since our son – his dad – was younger than him. In fact, he has on his dad’s skates,” she said of Gabriel.

With the holidays and the winter season, Kimes said interest in skating usually slows a bit but he expects it to pick back up in January and continue through the winter season.

Indoor activities like skating are something that can be done anytime of the year, especially in the winter when outdoor activities are more restricted due to the weather.

Kimes said interest in skating is still strong overall, although it rises and falls in cycles. Skate Country offers public skating hours from 7:30-11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. There is also Saturday morning skating aimed at children ages 12 and under from 10 a.m.-noon and more public skating from 1:30-4 p.m. Sundays.

“We rent it out the rest of the time to groups, churches, schools and others,” he said of the rink.