116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS -The City of Five Seasons is a great choice for many families and businesses for many reasons.
"We found (the ImOn Ice Arena) and were very excited and happy about it, so we picked to come to Cedar Rapids," said Mykal Pedraza, assistant meet director for the United States Roller Skating 2021 National Championships held from July 2 through August 2.
Headquartered in Lincoln, Neb., the organization often rotates host cities and wanted somewhere more centrally located after traveling to Spokane, Wash., and Albuquerque, N.M., in recent years.
"The facility is great because it's able to accommodate us with both floors," Pedraza said. "That allows us to use our $70,000 Italian practice floor and then our wood floor for competition."
While most of the audience for the different competitions are made up of friends and family, one couple who stumbled upon the event returned five times, despite not personally knowing any of the skaters.
Barry and Doris Barker grew up in Chicago and met in 1956, although it wasn't until a weeklong road trip to the 1958 national skating championships in Maryland that the two really started talking.
"We got to know each other and it kept building from there," Barry said. "By 1960, we were married."
The pair never skated together competitively due to their height difference. He's 6-foot and she's 5-foot.
They ran a printing company together for 28 years and raised a daughter, Donna, before deciding to downsize five years ago.
"We were looking for a retirement home and Iowa got a good write-up in something I read," Barry said.
"We looked at Des Moines and thought it was too busy," Doris said.
Cedar Rapids seemed like the perfect fit, so they chose to retire to Eastern Iowa.
While they enjoy their new home and city, there is one thing Barry is still getting used to.
"Drivers around here are so polite and people wave at you," Barker said. "I told Doris I'm having a heck of a time getting the grass cut, I'm too busy out here waving at people."
For most of the last week, the Barkers have made their way to the ImOn Ice Arena to rekindle their love for the sport that helped them fall in love six-plus decades ago.
"We've been married 61 years, you don't stay that way from arguing all the time," said Barry, while Doris nodded in agreement.
"We've enjoyed every bit of it," Doris said. "The dances are different, but they're good and we know what it takes to do that stuff and how it should be done."
With the month-long event concluded, the Barkers are hoping Cedar Rapids can host another national skating championship.
"We'd love that," the two said in agreement.