Local skaters have been trying to hit the rink one last time between now and Dec. 15 when Happy Wheels will be closing. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

PORTLAND — For more than four decades, it has been a place for birthday parties, first dates, family outings and roller derby competitions. But in a week and a half, Happy Wheels Skate Center at 331 Warren Ave. will close its doors for good.

Happy Wheels Skate Center on Warren Avenue is closing after 46 years after the building was sold to a developer. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

Happy Wheels announced Oct. 30 it was closing because the building was being sold. Since then, business has been brisk as longtime customers look to experience Happy Wheels one last time.

“People are trying to get their last skate in, be it parents with kids, be it children, be it people skating one last time for the memories,” manager Danny Dyer said. “We have been incredibly busy.”

Dyer, who has been with Happy Wheels for 46 years, was caught off guard by the sale of the building.

“I was surprised. I didn’t know they were looking to sell,” he said.

The business and property owner, Warren Ave LLC, was “approached by someone who wanted to buy the building and wasn’t interested in keeping the rink,” Dyer said. “That put us out of business because the building was being sold for development, whatever that means.”

The property was sold Nov. 18 by Warren Ave LLC to Olds LLC, according to the Maine Registries of Deeds. A lawyer for Olds LLC directed all comments to Paul C. White, a member of Warren Ave LLC who co-owns Paul White Company, a flooring and interior design company.

White said he does not know what the new owners’ plans are with the property, but it is likely not going to include Happy Wheels.

“We do own the Happy Wheels business but have no place to run it,” White said. “We have talked with a few groups about buying the equipment.”

The Warren Avenue facility is the last of the seven Happy Wheels skating centers left. Happy Wheels sites in South Portland and Scarborough closed in the 1980s and 2000s, respectively.

Shyla Brooks of Old Orchard Beach was watching her children skate last Saturday.

“When we heard they were closing, we’ve been trying to come as much as possible,” she said.

Brooks, who grew up going to the Payne Road Happy Wheels in Scarborough, said skating has always been a popular winter activity for her family, to “get out of the house and get some energy out.”

“It is sad to see them close,” she said. “It is the only roller skating center around.”

Melissa D’Agostino was also sad about the upcoming closing. As a child, she skated at Happy Wheels once a month with classmates from St. Joseph’s School (now St. Brigid) in Portland and she celebrated her eighth birthday there. She shared her love of roller skating with her children, Adeline and Cohen, and said she had hoped to continue bringing them to Happy Wheels.

“I am definitely sad to hear it is closing, especially because these guys were just learning how to skate. I don’t know where we will go now,” she said.

Paul Beaver, of Scarborough, said he was a regular at Happy Wheels, going every weekend growing up.

“It is just fun. There is something that is pure and innocent to roller skating. It is something to do indoors with my children all winter. It is unfortunate it is closing,” said Beaver, who was at Happy Wheels Nov. 30 to celebrate his son Eli’s seventh birthday.

Dyer said he is still planning a final skate event between now and Sunday, Dec. 15, the center’s last day.

Maine Roller Derby, which has been practicing and competing at Happy Wheels for the last dozen years, will skate for the last time at Happy Wheels Saturday, Dec. 14, at its annual Coming Out Bout, the inaugural competition for the league’s newest skaters, beginning at 5 p.m.

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