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Skating camp fights holiday boredom

Nineteen-year-old Dexter Bishop leads a snake of skaters around Big Wheelie skating rink Monday during the Winter Skate Camp. (Jon GiffinThe Vicksburg Post)

[12/28/2004] Deborah Morgan, manager of the Big Wheelie, counts the number of years she’s been working there by the age of her daughter.

“Let’s see, it’s 2005 and she’ll be 25 in January so I’ve been here for 23 years now,” Morgan said.

Morgan, a full-time physical education teacher in Clinton, grew up in Vicksburg and says she started driving to Jackson to go skating as soon as she got her license to drive. She says she loved skating so much that she once ignored warnings about an impending ice storm and ended up spending the night at a skating rink there.

Now, she drives from Clinton to Vicksburg every weekend to open the Big Wheelie at 3411 N. Frontage Road where she still wears skates every night while watching over the younger skaters.

“My feet don’t hurt when I wear skates, but they hurt when I wear shoes,” Morgan said.

For years, skating has been a favorite activity among kids of all ages, but Morgan said that recently the participation has been slipping. Once lines went around the building with close to 200 children filling the Big Wheelie, but today Morgan said they do good to get about 60 on a Saturday night.

She said the decline in business is something she worries about a lot.

“We’ve been here a long time and we can’t go down without a fight,” Morgan said. “For some of these kids this is all they do.”

Since she was 8 years old Danielle Harris could be found at the Big Wheelie almost every weekend and today, a senior at Vicksburg High School, she works part time there. She also helps supervise younger kids at this week’s Winter Skate Camp.

About 78 youths ranging from 3 years old to 18 participate in the four-day program on weekends until this spring when they will put on a show.

“This is a place where kids can go and there’s really not a lot for kids to do in Vicksburg,” Harris said.

A junior at Warren Central High School, 16-year-old Sherice Glasper has been skating since she was 4 and says it’s something she does every weekend.

“It’s fun and good for making friends and great exercise,” Glasper said.