It never ceases to amaze me on the first warm day of Spring (or in our case recently, late winter) how swarms of Fargo residents take to the streets to soak up the sunshine. It reminds me of animals waking up after a long hibernation. The greatest part is how much everyone truly appreciates it after a long winter, and with the thought in the back of their mind that winter could suddenly show its ugly face again with the flip of the switch. No weather ever seems to be stable or predictable in the upper Midwest.
So as the temperature gage squeaks beyond 40 degrees, the parks and streets are filled with runners, walkers, strollers, dogs, kids of all ages, bicycles, tricycles, scooters, motorcycles, and an assortment of sports equipment. However, there is one item that emerges during the first glimpse of warm weather that shocked me to my core when I moved here. I would be left staring in shock and confusion as it would pass me by, and leave me asking myself, “did I really just see what I think I saw?” I remember playing with them in my youth, but thought they had disappeared and become somewhat of the endangered species of recreation equipment similar to the skip-it and double-dutch jump ropes. I had heard rumors they still existed in some dusty boxes in the back of garages and storage sheds, and would even show up from time to time in second hand stores, but I had not seen them with my own eyes since I was a small tyke… at least not until I moved to Fargo.
What is this strange piece of retro-equipment I speak of? None other than… roller blades.
If you are from here then you probably are equally as stunned that I had not seen roller blades in so many years as I was to have seen them in the first place. While I am no historian, it seems to me that roller blades never really disappeared from Fargo as they did in many other parts of the country, and it seems that people still enjoy “blading” just as much as the vast majority of the country did at least 15 or so years ago. Ok, while I admit roller blading was not my strongest sport partially due to my inability to move my joints due to the restriction of knee pads, elbow pads, wrist guards and a helmet (thanks, Mom), I am not picking on the hobby simply because of my own jealousy. I mean, do I get a little jealous when a “blader” whips by me and causes me to have flashbacks of my 8 year old self rolling on the ground unable to stand back up after purposefully falling in order to stop myself from rolling down a hill? Sure. Do I wish I could have mimicked the skating abilities of the kids on Mighty Ducks as they tore through the Mall of America on their roller blades instead of barely being able to skate 5 paces without epically crashing? Absolutely. Do I look down at the scars on my knee and feel a twinge of anger as I remember skidding face first down a paved street with roller blades still attached? Yeah, a little bit. But just like the rest of the country who survived Y2K and then proceeded to hang up their blades, I too gave up my dreams and found other more “millennial” forms of recreation like jogging and razor scooters.
I am not alone in my observation. In fact, a few other Fargo transplants (who will remain nameless to save them from the backlash that may occur from this post) have also commented to me about the shock they experienced when they saw their first Fargo roller blader. They too thought it might be an isolated incident. However, as the warm weather stretched on, and the roller blader spottings became more and more prevalent, they too began to ponder if Fargo somehow got stuck in a sports equipment twilight zone.
Again, I am not mocking those of you that choose to continue your fitness pursuits through roller blading up and down the streets of Fargo. In fact, I commend your abilities to keep a dying sport “hip” and “cool” in the name of a good cardio workout. However, I do have a few questions for you. First of all, did you bring it back or did it never really disappear? Also, are these roller blades relics of your childhood or is it still possible to buy new roller blades?
Any which way, keep on blading you crazy kids. And if you need to borrow a fanny pack or scrunchy, I think I have one tucked away in my garage somewhere.