By Anaridis Rodriguez

WORCESTER (CBS) – Walk into Skylite today and the rink sits empty, the skates are tucked away and the speakers are silent. Days after being allowed to re-open, the skating center shut down, for good. The closure of the beloved center is now one of the casualties of the pandemic.

“At the beginning like most people, we thought it was just going to open in a few months and we’d go about our business,” said owner MJ Fors. “But as the months went on and on, we were on the bottom of the list to re-open. And it gave me a lot of time to think. I don’t know how long it’s going to take for this to come back. And I decided that I didn’t want to be struggling.”

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MJ Fors, owner of Skylite in Worcester (WBZ-TV)

The Park Avenue rink had been in business for four decades. Earlier this week, Fors made the announcement on Facebook. She says it was a difficult decision, after months of trying to keep the lights on selling take out. At least once a week, Skylite offered patrons pizza and ice cream cake to-go. Since the announcement, hundreds of people have posted comments expressing their love and gratitude for the long-running family center.

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Pre-pandemic, Skylite was the place to be any day of the week. Tuesdays were known for family night, Saturdays reserved for parties. The place was particularly special for MJ’s late husband, Richard.

“This is a business my husband wanted his whole life. He grew up skating and he always thought that would be a dream come true. And it happened. His dream came true,” MJ said.

After Richard’s passing in 2003, MJ kept that dream alive and continued running the family business. She says she’ll cherish the memories forever, from the growing families, to the happy holidays and the happy kids. Skylite even hosted her son’s wedding last month. It was a fitting closure to the center’s legacy, as the lights go out on a Worcester landmark.

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“You could come to a place with your friends, listen to your music loud, you didn’t have to be quiet, skate around like a maniac. It was a great outlet,” said MJ. “You knew you were safe, you knew the people that were here cared about you. And hopefully when you left you couldn’t wait to come back. There are a lot of great memories here for everyone and that’s all we have.”

Anaridis Rodriguez