By Lena Mitchell
Daily Journal Corinth Bureau
IUKA – As 15-year-old Sydney Parnell of Iuka prepared to take her first steps onto the skating rink at Family Fun Zone, she was encouraged by her friend, Ane Davila, also 15.
“I’m just now getting started,” Parnell said.
Parnell and her mother, Deborah Najeddine, were at the rink for the first time on Friday since the new amusement venue opened the previous weekend, but Ane said she came on opening day.
“I like to skate and I’ve been telling my friends about it,” she said.
Najeddine wasn’t on skates herself, but was excited that her daughter now has a place to go that she also enjoyed as a teenager.
“Sydney is the same age I was when I first started coming here,” Najeddine said. “I grew up in this place and it brings back so many memories.”
The building on Mississippi Highway 25 south of Iuka ended bingo operations about a year ago after more than two decades. However, it was built in the 1970s as a roller skating rink, and the new operators were eager to bring that experience back to the community.
“We have four kids, and having good family entertainment is important to us,” said Ashley Whitfield, who operates the business with her husband Jamie. “There’s been nothing around here for them to do without going to Corinth or Muscle Shoals.”
Now the roller skating rink, game arcade, pool tables and inflatable bounce houses for young children provide their family and others additional choices for their weekend entertainment.
Jamie Whitfield is an Iuka native who remembers how much he enjoyed skating there when he was young. He’s happy they’ve created a place where their children – Shawn, 8, Baily, 6, Lindsey, 5 and Grayson, 1 – can have fun and be safe.
“We’ve been thinking for a while – two or three years – about doing something like this but couldn’t find a place that was big enough,” he said. “We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout our first weekend. It’s gotten off to a great start.”
At A Glance
• When: 4 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays
• Where: 2255 Highway 25 South, Iuka (former Tishomingo Bingo hall)
• Cost: $6 to skate; $5 for inflatables; combo admission $9; no charge for arcade
• Information: (662) 423-6642