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Longtime skaters roll, remember at reunion

MANATEE -- As they sat on a bench at Astro Skate of Bradenton Wednesday night Chrysta Brown Gulas and Barbara Jackson could not help reminiscing about the days they worked at the rink, back when it was under the name Florida Wheels.

“Remember when these benches were over there?” Jackson,37, said as she pointed to the other side of the rink.

To which Brown Gulas, 40, laughed and made a comment about everything else that has changed since the rink got new owners in the spring.

The friends were meeting up for a Florida Wheels Reunion Skate night, designed to encourage those who haven’t been to the rink in a while to come back, see the remodel and remember the location’s history.

“I worked here a bazillion years ago,” said Brown Gulas who worked there from 1986-1991, as she looked at the space theme paintings on the walls and openness of the floor. “The paint was just one color. I think it’s a lot more appealing now.”

For Jackson, her memories have come full circle since her children Victoria, 18, and Rebecca, 17, now work at Astro Skate.

And it’s because of moments like the one between the former coworkers that owner Chris Maganias decided to do the throw-back night.

“I want them to remember what it was back then and see how it is now,” said Maganias, a firm believer in keeping the location family friendly. “Watch the faces of kids when they skate, they’re happy.”

Daniel Lynch has memories of the location with his family, he used to go on dates with his ex-wife at the location and taught his children how to skate there.

“I’ve came here since it was Sunshine Skateway, and it’s just the same to me,” Lynch, 54, said. “I like coming here, and I’ve skated in every rink in the state.”