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By Thomas J. Sullivan–
Sunrise Rollerland is one of those special places in Citrus Heights where, for skaters young and old, time feels like it has stood still.
Once inside, the medieval-themed Sunrise Rollerland at 6001 Sunrise Vista Drive, you wouldn’t think that much has changed since 1973 when its original owner Lloyd Neutz opened its doors.
“That was always part of Lloyd’s plan,” said Diane Pyle, the skating rink’s, assistant general manager. “He always wanted it to feel like home.”
Today, Lloyd’s son, Ken, and his wife Kathy keep Sunrise Rollerland in the Neutz family. “Both of their children work here,” Pyle said.
Pyle, a graduate of San Juan High School, managed Sunrise Rollerland from 1987 to 2000 and then came back to work 17 years later in July 2017 as its assistant general manager.
Sunrise Rollerland has two full-time staff, and up to 22 part-time workers during winter and spring months.
“It’s going to be an especially busy month for us in late June,” Pyle said. Sunrise Rollerland will again host qualifiers for the 2019 Southwest Region Figure Skating Championships from June 24-29.
Subtle changes are evident throughout Sunrise Rollerland. Modern overhead lighting, still with a medieval theme, has replaced older fixtures. A new snack bar was installed a few years ago, and carpeting is replaced on a regular basis. A large, wall-length original mural at the end of the skate floor remains bright and vibrant as it was in 1973.
Pyle wasn’t long out of high school when she started work at Sunrise Rollerland.
“It’s a rewarding job for a lot of our younger, first-time employees,” she told The Sentinel. “While it’s generally a fun work environment, it does teach them a very real work ethic.”
In early morning hours on a recent Thursday, a regular group of adult male and female skaters glide effortlessly across its wooden floor, as they did when they were younger.
Some are members of Sunrise Rollerland’s artistic team, the Sunrise Crusaders. Members of the speed team, some 35 in all, Triad Racing, compete in speed, strength and stamina.
The facility’s original, high-gloss, northern hard rock maple floor, which measures 93 by 187 feet around, is in beautiful condition and refinished regularly. The facility also features a complete pro shop.
Pyle said she moved to Citrus Heights in 1977 from Foothill Farms and recalls when Sunrise Mall was first being built in the early ’70s. “I grew up skating here,” she said.
The 1970s was a heyday for roller skating, Pyle remembers. “There were more than seven roller rinks like ours in the greater Sacramento area, and now there are five of us left,” she said.
Eric Adams, maintenance manager, said it’s a never-ending job to keep the facility in top shape. The floor is resurfaced once a year, and safety and cleanliness throughout the facility is his constant concern. On Fridays, Sunrise Rollerland is closed to the public until 4 p.m. for general maintenance, Adams said.
“We’re always changing and always improving,” Pyle said. “We stock about 800 pairs of skates for rental, and many of these are replaced regularly, due to wear and tear. Inspection and servicing our skates is, for us, an ongoing process.”
The condition of Sunrise Rollerland’s wooden floor has also made it an ideal testing ground for roller skate product manufacturers and wheel testing, Adams said. “We’re constantly getting requests for that purpose and it’s a testament to the quality of our skating floor.”
As it did when it first opened in 1973, customers are reminded as they enter that Sunrise Rollerland remains dedicated to “provide our Citrus Heights community with the finest facility in which to enjoy the spirit of roller skating for good fellowship and wholesome recreation.”
“There was a resurgence of interest in the ‘90s with the popularity of in-line skating,” Pyle said. “Today, it’s starting to pick up again, as a generation of parents who were active skaters in the ‘80s are re-introducing their children and their grandchildren to the fun of skating. It’s ‘old school fun.'”
Skating is at the customer’s own risk, Pyle said. Standards of dress and attire expected of all skaters. Neatness of dress and person is expected of every skater. Revealing clothing and bare midriff, frayed hems, bare feet, hats, headphones and laser pointers are prohibited, according to a customer brochure.
All pants must be hemmed, and a no smoking and no gum-chewing rule is enforced throughout the facility to protect carpets and flooring.
In addition, skaters are reminded that toe stops, and toe plugs must be worn and all personal skates which are worn must have flush wheel hardware.
Sunrise Rollerland offers professional instruction, group rates, family night rates, catered birthday parties, class instruction, artistic and speed classes, special holiday sessions and super kid’s sessions.
Three different birthday party packages, a King Arthur “Ultimate” Party, a Camelot Party and a Royal Party are also popular and can be booked through the skating rink’s web site.
The cost of admission for an afternoon skate session is $9, an evening session is $9.50 and an extra session outside of regular time is $3. The cost to rent regular skates is $4 and inline skates are $5. Skate rental for children under age five is $5. Group rates are also offered.
Sunrise Rollerland offers beginning skating classes on Wednesday mornings from 9:30 to 10 a.m., Thursday afternoon from 3:30 to 4 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. for $10 per session. Private lessons are available by appointment from coaches who are certified by USA Roller Sports.
Sunrise Rollerland is located at 6001 Sunrise Vista Drive, behind Sunrise Mall in Citrus Heights. Additional information can be found online at
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