Evansville’s King of the Roller Rink teaches skating, life lessons

Local News

If it’s Friday night, then the the roller rink at Skate World in Evansville is full. And that is where you will find the king of the skating world.

Joe Baumgart drives all the way from Vincennes to attend every skating session. He’s not hard to find: after all, his skates light up and he’s got some signature moves.

“I like to go like this! And sometimes like this!”

If you ask Joe how long he’s been coming here…

He doesn’t have an exact date. But that doesn’t matter, he says:
“Because I don’t act my age.”

Joe got his start, and his VIP status, in a very unsual way at another local skating rink.

“The owners asked me….’Hey Joe! You want to skate for free?’ And I said ‘What’s the catch?’…. and they said, ‘Well you might have to wear different clothes…'”

And that’s how Joe became a clown.

“So I made myself a mask. And I got a nose that honks!”

He doesn’t just limit his activities to the rink. He plays air hockey with all the kids. He even uses a special handicap when he plays his friends, so they have the upper hand.

“I look to the side, and do like this. They call me Grandpa.”

Joe has been a familiar face at several local rinks, but finally made skate world his home.

“The people here are so nice…and appreciative. They treat me like I’m not an old man.”

There is a reason for that appreciation. Joe says he skates for excercise. But he’s also taught the love and skill of skating to generations.

“He taught me how to skate side ways.”

“When I didn’t know how to go backwards, he showed me.”

“He’s taught us so many different things and we’re all grateful that we met him. And that he came into our lives.”

A tip for beginners from Joe? If you don’t fall when you start out, there’s probably something wrong with you. You need to fall, because that is how your body learns.

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(This story was originally published on May 17, 2019)

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