'Shops' Sponsor In-Line Skating

In-line skaters ruled the road while cars took a back seat yesterday afternoon when traffic was cut off to the streets around the Malkin Athletic Center for the Shops by Harvard Yard's annual Fall Bash.

For this year's bash, the shops sponsored an in-line skating awareness program designed to introduce people to the sport.

City Sports provided free one-hour in-line skate rentals, WFNX was on hand with music and Rollerblade sent in a team of professionals to perform a stunt show.

Holyoke, Winthrop and Dunster streets around the MAC were closed from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. to provide a safe environment for first-time in liners, said Harvard Police Lt. Lawrence J. Murphy.

In addition, a lane of Holyoke Street was cordoned off with velvet ropes to allow skaters to travel safely from City Sports to the car-free area around the MAC, Murphy said.

An arch of yellow balloons ornamented by a large Rollerblade banner stretched across the intersection of Mt. Auburn and Holyoke Streets, directing the skaters to their temporary safe haven.

About 200 people gathered to watch the in-line skating pros perform trick jumps from ramps near the Rollerblade van parked south of Mt. Auburn street, said D. Ashley Transki, a technical representative of Rollerblade.

In addition, approximately 100 people got their first taste of in-line skating courtesy of the free rentals at City Sports and the Rollerblade van.

"It was a lot of fun," said City Sports employee Margery I. Miller '96. "A lot of people came out and did rollerblading who wouldn't have otherwise."

To further encourage new skaters to continue with the sport, City Sports used a number of promotions such as discounts for new skate purchases and a raffle for a free pair of in-line skates, Miller said.

According to City Sports employee Beth M. Green, the store has put on similar events at other locations before but thought Harvard Square has advantages over other sites.

"Harvard is a good spot for it, especially on a Sunday afternoon," she said. "You've got lots of tourists and Memorial Drive is closed so a lot of people go down there."

As a result of the growing popularity of in-line skating, Murphy said the program serves an important purpose.

"It appears to be a good program," he said. "It's important to teach people how to skate properly and use all of the safety features."