This Austin Event Used Roller Skating to Bring a Community Together

A mixed-use development closed three streets to create a nostalgia-fueled roller skating extravaganza.

By Amy Gordon December 18, 2018, 7:31 AM EST

Some guests arrived in costume while others performed tricks.

Courtesy of Red Velvet Events

The Gr8 Sk8
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Domain Northside, a mixed-use retail and residential property in Austin, hosts events each month, but this fall they wanted something with a larger scope.

The answer, which Endeavor Real Estate–Domain Northside developed with Red Velvet Events, was the Gr8 Sk8. The outdoor skating party was held on the development's grounds and involved creating a skating rink that spanned multiple blocks.

“When we were planning this year’s calendar, our client threw out the idea of roller skating, and we ran with the concept,” said Amanda Batts, program manager at Red Velvet Events. “The main purpose of the event was to bring the Austin community as a whole together to get to know each other and spend some time having fun.”

After a delay because of Hurricane Gordon—the team had to reschedule the event with just 48 hours notice—the event took place under clear skies on November 4 and drew upwards of 1,000 guests of all ages.

The team promoted the Gr8 Sk8 using social media, radio, and print ads and the client’s e-newsletter. Domain Northside tenants Nordstrom and the Archer Hotel served as sponsors.

To create the rink, Domain Northside shut down three streets to vehicular traffic. “We started with a map of the property and saw that there was an area that naturally lent itself to forming a somewhat circular shape that we could use as a roller rink,” Batts said. In total, the perimeter of the rink measured just over a half-mile, and as the entire area is private property, getting permission to close the streets was not an issue. The team worked with the Austin Police Department to provide adequate signage directing traffic and ensured that shoppers could still access stores.

While there was no official theme for the night, an air of nostalgia permeated the entire event. “We wanted to make everyone that came feel like they were a kid again in their local roller rink,” Batts explained. Three DJs stationed throughout the rink each played tunes from a different decade of music—’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. Some guests even showed up in retro costumes. Black lights made the neon decor pop, streamers and disco balls hung from the trees, and Domain Northside tenants set up activations. A hangout area for non-skaters featured Skee-ball, shuffleboard, air hockey, a photo booth, and arcade games. Since the event was held in advance of Thanksgiving, guests could write what they were thankful for on an oversized chalkboard.

Logistically, one of the biggest hurdles was finding enough skates for the occasion. Many roller rinks have rules about using their skates on asphalt, which made securing enough pairs a challenge. Ultimately, the team rented from LW Skates in Arlington, Texas, 200 miles from the event venue.

After an enthusiastic response, the Gr8 Sk8 will now be a signature event every fall.

“Several people asked if we could do it every month,” Batts said.

The event also benefited Austin Angels, a nonprofit that provides services for foster children. Guests could make cards to go into gift packs for the kids, and in lieu of paying to rent skates, they were encouraged to make a donation. In total, the Gr8 Sk8 raised nearly $2,000 for the organization.

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