The 34-year-old shop owner/activist (and part-time rollerskater), Dianna Carlin, has taken the first roll around the Lola Staar Dreamland Roller Rink -- set to open in Coney Island tomorrow (ending a near year-long dry spell of rollerskating in the area). Mr. Coney tells us, "Roller skating has always been popular in Coney Island, dating back to the Sea Beach Palace Roller Rink of the 1890s. The Palace, located on Surf Avenue at West 8th Street, was transformed from a railroad terminal into a rink that hosted roller dancing and roller racing events. There were also rinks at Dreamland, Luna Park, and Steeplechase."
The portable 40' x 80' rink is housed inside Childs Restaurant building, and the opening is expected to bring in the usual quirky Coney Island locals, stilt walkers and of course some professional dance-skaters. Also expected: singer Ashanti.
How did a shop owner who was facing eviction from her souvenir shop last year, and spends her spare time fighting against condos taking over her home turf, become a roller rink operator? Through a contest sponsored by Glamour and Tommy Hilfiger, of course. The NY Post reports that the two "paid for the temporary skating area, provided Carlin with 200 skates and made arrangements with property owner Taconic Investment Partners to give Carlin access to the site."
Carlin would like to extend the rink's stay until the building finds a new restaurant operator, and in the long term she hopes to move it in to the former Washington Bath House. The Observer has more on what's sure to be the Lola Staar takeover of Coney Island!