Beloved Jackson NJ skating rink shutting down after 44 years
If you grew up in or around Jackson Township, New Jersey, you probably attended a birthday party at some point at Jackson Skating Center on County Line Road / Route 526. Heck, if you lived anywhere around northern Ocean or southern Monmouth counties, you probably visited at some point.
Since 1978 — for 44 years — the Jackson Skating Center has hosted skating parties, roller derbies, fun, friends, and family memories.
Unfortunately, the rink announced on Friday via its Facebook page that the business will be closing for good as of October 3, 2022.
No one would ever call the Jackson Skating Center "modern" or "up-to-date". It was always delightfully vintage, with fluorescent lights, matted dark blue carpets, and painted murals on the walls. That was absolutely part of the charm.
No official reason for the closure was given. But many commenters speculated COVID-19 related restrictions and/or the overall economic downturn are to blame.
There are some clues, however, that there is more at play behind the sudden shutdown. The rink recently closed down for maintenance for almost two weeks, at the tail-end of the busy summer season. Why fix things if the business is expected to close up shop a month later? Did they discover a major, irreparable issue with the facility?
Furthermore, Rollermagic's South Amboy Arena location is staying open. So clearly, there is a market for roller skating entertainment in today's economy.
Who knows what will happen next to that prime piece of real estate. (County Line Road is about as close to "downtown" as Jackson gets.)
There are rumors circulating that an existing owner of skating rinks has agreed to buy Jackson Skating Center, renovate and refresh the facility, and then reopen it later this year. (As of this writing, I have not been able to confirm nor deny that story.)
Other possibilities? Perhaps it will be converted into a new kind of family entertainment complex. Or maybe the building will be razed and turned into retail or apartment space — a story that happens so often in towns across New Jersey.
Although the business may be shutting down, the memories will remain. The building always stood as an anachronistic institution in my hometown. But soon, no longer.
Jackson Skating Center will be open for skating and events through Sunday, October 2nd. So you still have time for one last visit, before the rink rolls into the sunset.
Dan Zarrow is Chief Meteorologist for Townsquare Media New Jersey. He never has, and never will, been able to stay on his foot with roller skates on. Follow Dan on Facebook or Twitter for your latest weather forecast updates.