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HISTORY

WE'RE PROUD OF THE HISTORY BEHIND OUR NAME. THANKS DOUG.

Meet the members in our past.

Doug Kelly

Founding Member

Mike Zosa

Long Time Member

Tom "Towi" Williams

Long Time Member

Our journey began in 1992

history

The Philadelphia Landskaters Timeline

April, 1992
October, 1992
July, 1994
November, 1994
June, 1995

John Franke skying boxes in Head House Square, South Philly.

Landskater History

1990s

The 90s saw the boom of inline skating due to the quality of inline skates produced by Rollerblade. That’s not a shill, it’s the truth. Rollerblade made inline skates what they are today. The brand had such an impact that their brand became a verb, rollerblade, or rollerblading was hot. 

Skate clubs were everywhere. Where there wasn’t a club, people still found each other, from Piedmont Park in Atlanta, to skaters circle near the Band Shell in Central Park, New York, people were loving the inline skate experience. 

In Philly, the Landskaters are the stuff of legend. By the mid-1990s the club included skaters of renowned acrobatic ability and larger than life personalities. And yet they really had one creed. Shut up and skate. They were all about skating and the events were born from enjoying the experience. The club performed demonstrations at the Philadelphia Zoo, Sesame Place to the Spectrum. 

Landskaters perform at Sesame Place
The Landskaters name travelled well in the 1990s. The Demo team is seen here performing at Sesame Place.

There was a board to manage the finances for a multitude of events the club was involved in. Members paid dues which provided members with discounts and a t-shirt.  

The club hosted races in downtown Philly on Market Street. The Landskaters demo team was for hire and performed in Philly and the surrounding suburbs from the Franklin Institute and The Philly Library to Sesame Place. The club’s notoriety resulted in quotes in books to features on all the local tv broadcast networks.

Landskaters

1992
Doug-Kelly-Cone-Skating-1

In 1992 Doug Kelly founded the Landskaters, still skating after 30 years from the club’s inception. 

In Doug’s own words, “Coming home from NY I saw a landscaper street sign on a truck and I got the idea. We skate on land — it made sense, the sport should be called landskating not inline.”

Board & Staff

From it’s beginning the Landskaters established a smooth running organization and legitimized it’s commitment.

First Landskaters

Original First Season 1992 Members Include: 

Doug Kelly
Wendy Kelly
Rob Irvine
Lana Csizmazia
Vivian Mamelak
John Franke
Brian Lipko
Ari Rothenthal
Deborah Van Sciver
Jerry Seitzinger
Mike Zosa
Rick Short
Brian Lipko
Keith “Odie” Miller

Don’t see yourself? Contact us.

ORIGINAL 1990s LANDSKATERS RAY SKATE LOGO
Original Landskater Logo

Newsletter

1992

As the 1992 inaugural skate season wound down the Landskaters launched their newsletter in October. It was a popular part of the membership experience. 

Want a piece of history?
Download Volume 1 Number 1

(.pdf)

1994 Philadelphia Landskaters Newsletter
The Landskaters of the 90s played a huge part in Philly culture.

Philadelphia Skate Patrol

1994

Legend has it that when Doug first established a Philadelphia branch of the National Skate Patrol the members were handed out blank red shirts which Doug collected after a skate. He’d wash them and have them ready for the next skate.

Wait. What’s a skate Patrol? It’s hard to say. If you’ve ever been to Central Park in Manhattan, there’s a branch of there called the Central Park Skate Patrol. Their purpose is to find struggling inline skaters and assist them. They offer a free lesson at a designated part of the park too.

The case of the Philadelphia Skate Patrol is different. They were assembled to help with existing skate events. They would skate ahead of the group and hold intersections for safety. They would mark corners and mark the back of the group with a ‘sweep’ to be sure no one was left behind.

In 1995, through the work of Rick Short, the Landskaters’ Philadelphia Skate Patrol became a chapter of the National Skate Patrol (NSP). The patrol assisted in planning group skate routes, marking the skate route, and ensuring the safety of skaters. They also expanded skate routes to new and exciting places. Skate patrol members were also trained in CPR and first aid. On many occasions, patrollers assisted skaters that fell, and a few times skate patrol took an injured skater to the emergency room.

 

Spectrum Performances

1994

The inline craze spawned a roller hockey league that launched in 1994. 

In an effort to promote the sport of roller hockey, local Philadelphia Bulldogs management contacted the Landskaters to perform demos and compete in a skater stunt show contest during game breaks.

“The Boxes is a event we had at the spectrum with Willburgers and the now defunct roller-hockey team Bulldogs.”

-Doug Kelly

The Spectrum
The Spectrum existed from 1967 to 2009

KWY 3 BROADCAST TV FEATURE

1995

While the local features reporter camped it up, the Landskaters kept it business as usual showcasing skills without fanfare. Meanwhile many recognizable faces expressed the joy of what it means to glide through the city.  

Play Video

In-Line Skating: The Ultimate How-To Guide

1995

Published in June of 1995, local author Albert Fried-Cassorla featured the Landskaters in various citations. Doug Kelly is quoted on tips in managing a local skate group along with showcasing the Landskaters accomplishments. 

In-line Skating: The Ultimate How-To Guide
The Landskaters are chronicled in detail by a local Philly Author.

The Philadephia Freedom Skate

1997

In 1997, a paid attendance event was born. The Philadelphia Freedom Skate was led by Beverly Hurff, Rick Short, Bob Bower, and a group of hard-working volunteers. Over 400 skaters from around the country, and other countries, came to Philly for a weekend of skating and socializing. 

Months before it began, the volunteers would set up lodging, skate routes, a Saturday picnic, and Friday and Saturday night dinners. Skate leaders would drive and skate the city for weeks to lay out Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning skate routes that covered 50+ miles for the weekend. 

That was no simple task because they had to find stops and water breaks where 400 skaters could gather on city streets. Picnics and dinners had to accommodate large groups, so that also took enormous planning. During the event, Landskaters’ relationship with the Philadelphia police through NSP and Inline Town Watch paid off as a police car led the group through the city, and several bike cops escorted the group. 

It was an amazing sight to see a long pack of skaters moving through the city for three days. One of the highlights of each Freedom Skate weekend was the Saturday evening train or bus ride to a destination on the city limits, followed by a long downhill route back into the city. 

The Freedom Skate went strong for 10 years. As the leadership retired, the event evolved. It was destined to become a the less formal but equally fun and exciting skate. The name would change to fit what it became. 

Philadelphia Landskaters Freedom Skate 1998
Philadelphia Landskaters Freedom Skate 1998

Free Skate

2007

One event that occurs annually every June lives on to this day. It’s the Free Skate. Three days of city street inline skating mixed with after skate dinners and events. Skaters from around the world gather to group skate in numbers reaching the hundreds for non-competitive skates throughout the streets of Philadelphia. 

The Free Skate was or is a product of the 90s inline skate boom. With clubs popping up around the United States and Europe, it only made sense that some cities with great city culture host an inline skate experience.  It was clear the event needed to last more than a day if you were going to ask people to come to your city from around the country and world. Clubs made these extended weekend events from Friday to Sunday. A handful of these events still take place. 

How the Free Skate Began

The predecessor to the Philly Free Skate was the Freedom Skate. Don’t let these two similar names confuse you. The Freedom Skate ran from 1997 to 2006. The Philadelphia Free Skate started in 2007.

By the 2000s inline skating was beginning to lose some steam. Philadelphia’s Free Skate came about when Freedom Skate organizer Beverly Hurff announced it’s last year in 2006. Why? Because unlike skates of today, the Freedom Skate was an event you paid to attend. Perhaps the Freedom Skate was no longer feasible due to the law of diminishing return?

Speaking to Doug Kelly, he explains the Freedom Skate organizers told him he had to do something to replace it. He answered, “I said I would but it would have to to be free.”

Landskaters road trip to Washington 1998
Landskaters road trip to Washington 1998

The Landskaters now enjoy having their own members travel to other long established weekend skates by other East Coast cities. Miami has one each winter in January or early February. At one time it enjoyed a police escort. Washington Area Rollers hosts their three day WAR Skate each May, (see 1998 photo above). New York’s Empire Skate Club hosts the ever popular Big Apple Roll the first weekend of every August. Other cities including Boston are on an annual circuit that hard-core inline skaters alway have marked on their calendar. 

Each club arranges for great discounts at a skater friendly hotel which  makes for great parties that include nationwide and global visitors. 

Strange In The City Feature

2008

Could have passed as a Landskaters Infomercial with Aaron Schantz on point. Familiar faces of the time, Keith ‘Odie’ Miller (Original 1992 Landskater), Christophe’, Rob, Kim, Rocco, Mike, and many others from the 2000’s timeline.

Play Video

Landskater Trivia

Yes! According to Doug Kelly, at least 15 marriages came about from the Landskaters such as Brian & Melissa Lipko and John & Sue Franke.

Bob Kelly has skated with the Landskaters. Some Landskaters have even had some VIP visits to areas of the Spectrum due to his friendship with the club. 

According to Doug Kelly, 32 miles. Most current skates are from 8 to 24 miles. The average Landskater skate distance is 12 miles. 

According to founding member Doug Kelly, 12 to 15 skaters attended the inaugural Landskater skate.

The annual Landskater membership in 1992 was $25 per person, $40 per couple and $60 for a family of four. You received a t-shirt, monthly newsletter, discounts on events and at locally sponsored sporting goods store Danzeisen & Quigley and a membership card!

You do not have to pay to be a member of the Landskaters. Come out and skate, and you're a Landskater.

LANDSKATERS EMAIL GROUP

WET ROADS? SKATES DELAYED?

Get up to the minute alerts with the Landskaters Email Group
Last minute changes such as rain or nearby events
Receive on ad-hoc off-skate invites to off-season skates
Send your own skate question to the group

Request to join our Landskaters Email Group
not a newsletter

LANDSKATERS EMAIL GROUP

WET ROADS? SKATES DELAYED?

Get up to the minute alerts with the Landskaters Email Group
Last minute changes such as rain or nearby events
Receive on ad-hoc off-skate invites to off-season skates
Send your own skate question to the group

Request to join our Landskaters Email Group
not a newsletter
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