Northern Wilds Magazine
The Nelson family is from Mountain Iron. From the left are Patrick, Ebba the birthday girl, and Lanae, with their parents Jackie and Adam Nelson. | NAOMI YAEGER
Along the Shore

World of Wheels: Nostalgic indoor fun

On a gray, cloudy Saturday afternoon, the music and lights inside the World of Wheels Skating Rink in Superior gave the area a warm and cheery atmosphere. Children skated, or attempted to. Some used a skatemate, a device made of PCP tubing that looks like a miniature walker.

Adults skated with them or stood on the sidelines. Within minutes, three separate birthday parties reported the fun their groups enjoyed. These parties filled the venue with laughter and excitement.

Chris Monroe, a grandmother on skates, was there to celebrate her granddaughter Selah’s 8th birthday. Selah had invited several friends.

“I like the retro vibe here,” Monroe said. “The staff is really great.” The party had just finished eating pizza in a birthday room to the side of the rink.

Selah’s friend, Sloan Scouten, age 7, was accompanied by her mother, Kelly Mullan.

“It is something to do indoors in the winter. There are skate sessions on the weekends and school holidays. It’s safe here,” Mullan said. “There are adults who work here, so it’s not like the kids are out running on their own.”

Another birthday celebration brought Ebba Nelson and her family and friends from Mountain Iron to the skating rink to mark her 11th birthday. Ebba spoke of her love for skating, while her friend Savana Tuonela, a basketball player, admitted to some apprehension about falling. Jackie Nelson, Ebba’s mother, fondly remembered her own college days spent skating at the rink. The birthday girl proudly mentioned her acquaintance with the DJ.

Teller Leppeanen uses a skateguard during his sister Sondra’s birthday party. | NAOMI YAEGER

Speaking of the DJ, in the background, music from the song YMCA by the Village People played. The lyrics: “Young man, there’s no need to feel down. I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground.” The DJ and floor guard, Axel, skated onto the floor. “Stand up straight,” he announced into the microphone as if following the lyrics’ suggestions. “Bend down low,” he said as he crouched down himself. The skaters followed his directions as if playing a Simon Says game. Many skaters needed to hold on to their plastic skatemates for support. The music and disco lights continued the whole time.

Soon, the lyrics of Ghostbusters filled the rink. “If there’s somethin’ strange in the neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters.”

Axel skated over for an interview. “What that (the game) is doing really is helping skaters get used to bending their knees while on skates,” Axel said. He continued, “If I can make any warm-up a game for them, then it’s way easier to teach them to get comfortable on any skates.”

Axel is his DJ moniker. His real name is Alex Morro. He said he works at World of Wheels about four days a week.

Then he skated back to his soundboard behind a wall near the skate rental area. “Do you want to write a novel?” he asked. “When I was seven, this place saved my life.” He first sought refuge at the rink because bullies taunted him after school. Soon, Morro was skating himself. At age 12, he was “working” at the rink, putting skates away.

“I remember him when he was a little squirt,” said World of Wheels owner Steve Grapentine. “He loves skating, and he’s good with people.”

Grapentine purchased the rink in April 2008. He had worked at a rink in the Twin Cities for 28 years while working full-time in the grocery business. He retired early and moved to Superior to own World of Wheels.

“I love roller skating, watching people have fun and creating fun,” he said of becoming a rink owner.

Speaking of creating fun, each month he plans themed events. In November, he planned a Taylor Swift Skate Night, featuring all Taylor Swift music.

For New Year’s Eve, he’s planning two parties, one in the afternoon for children and one in the evening for adults.

The oldest World of Wheels skater was 85 years old, according to Grapentine.

An adult morning skate on Wednesday is for anyone. “Most coming are in their 60s, some 70s and 80s—looking for something to do,” Grapentine added.

“It is good for your heart and muscles, and keeps you moving,” Grapentine said. To learn more about World of Wheels, visit:

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