MUNCY - Christy Thomas-Savel of Loyalsock Township cultivated a love for roller-skating during her childhood, spreading her passion halfway across the country when she taught skating at a rink in Wichita Falls, Texas.
"I learned a lot of my moves from that guy right over there," Savel said. She pointed to a sprightly man a few yards away, performing sit spins, camel spins and double flips with amazing ease - a head of gray hair his only sign of aging.
Chip Hendershot, a regular at Skateland U.S.A. in Cogan Station 30 years ago, never lost his magic on the maple wood floor.
NATALIE TORENTINOS/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Christy Thomas-Savel participates in Saturday’s roller skating reunion at the Trout Pond Park roller rink in Muncy.
Hendershot, a self-employed photography lab owner from Watsontown, was the driving force behind the first Skateland reunion at Trout Pond Park Roller Rink in Muncy Saturday, something many hope will become a regular occurrence.
Dance music from the '70s and '80s wasn't the only throwback to days past, but more so the company of good friends who hadn't been under the same roof in several decades.
Growing up, Hendershot struggled to find a sport he excelled in, but soon found his calling at the roller-skating rink less than a mile from his house.
"I lived three-tenths of a mile from Skateland, on the same side of the road, and when they opened in 1976 I started skating. In the long run it has taught me that every time you put on skates, it's a risk. When you fall down you get up again. Skating itself has prepared me for life, for those times when you fall or for the things I thought I couldn't face."
In addition to practicing artistic freestyle skating for hours at a time, he was behind the counter helping Skateland staff with day-to-day tasks. He skated until getting married in 1981, meeting his wife at the Sunset Rink in Shamokin Dam.
After a long hiatus, Hendershot laced up his skates in July and found a new home at Trout Pond Park every Thursday night.
"I love Trout Pond's floor and atmosphere. It allows the stress of life to be unloaded when you're skating. It's such a relief. When I'm done, I'm ready for the world again."
Hendershot's return to the rink coincided with Skateland U.S.A. owners Max and Sue Liddic's desire to reunite their "rink rats" through a Facebook page last fall.
Hendershot soon learned of the group and became one of its administrators, hatching plans for a reunion. The page has attracted about 270 members and 140 of them attended the weekend's gathering.
"We're rekindling old friendships. You can tell by the group that's here what a special place that was. It was one of the best things that happened to Hepburnville. Facebook allowed this. It would have been really hard to reconnect this way."
Sue Liddic and her family attended Saturday's skate, even though Liddic admits she never learned to skate very well.
"I always ran the snack bar," she said, chuckling. "My husband had skated all his life and decided on a whim to build a rink in 1974. It became such a big family. To see them today is really something."
Liddic wasn't the only motherly figure at the rink. Rita Herbst, also known as the "Skateland Mom," took up skating at the rink in her late 30s after her children were grown. As soon as she put skates on, she knew Skateland was where she belonged.
Herbst quickly become good friends with the Liddics and all the other rink regulars over the years.
"I didn't know what to do with my life, so I started going back after years of skating at Trout Pond during my teenage years. It was a family away from home," Herbst said.
"There's a magic involved in skating. It was a wonderful, magical time. We looked after each other. If someone had a problem or needed a ride home, we helped out. Once you're a skater, you're always a skater."
One of those loyal skaters is Tom Buck, who was at Skateland the night it opened in 1976 and the night it closed in 1984.
Buck said he couldn't wait to get off work and skate.
"It was a good place for a long time. Skating has always had its peaks and valleys. Dance music tends to bring it back. Since that music died off, so did skating. At some point it will come back, because something will spur it on."
Currently the closest rinks are in Lock Haven, Middleburg, Shamokin Dam and Bloomsburg. There used to be five rinks at one time in this area, Buck said.
Despite an overall downswing in the activity, Trout Pond's skating rink has been in operation for 10 years and according to owner Frank Pidcoe, business is steady with 300 to 400 skaters on any given weekend. Some patrons make a three-hour trip from New York to skate every week.
While Pidcoe didn't skate at Skateland, he was a loyal customer at Trout Pond for many years.
"This was the place to come after church on Sunday. I remember the train rides as a kid, getting something to eat and going roller-skating. My parents did the same thing growing up. My heart and soul is in the place. I spent more time growing up here than anywhere else."
Many Skateland skaters emphasized the fact that it's a great sport for young people, though it's hard to compete with X-Box and Wii these days. But judging from the packed house on Saturday, roller-skating still can appeal to the next generation.
"Now people are sitting at computers," Herbst said. "There's not enough activity in their lives. You don't have to wait for a sunny day to skate. It's always sunny in here."
To learn more about Skateland and future reunions, look up Skateland U.S.A. Reunion Skate on Facebook.