A community presence in Kansas City since 1860, the Greater Kansas City YMCA forwards its mission of physical and social enrichment for men, women, and kids of all ages and backgrounds at its 18 locations. Each bustling outpost proffers members an embarrassment of fitness and entertainment riches, with everything from youth camps and after-school programs to group exercise classes, such as cycling, core training, and Pilates. Clubs and social organizations help members meet like-minded friends, and family activities strengthen bonds critically weakened by overzealous games of Monopoly.
The new owners of The Oaks Golf Club renovated the nine-hole Oaks course by expanding greens and adding dimension, resulting in 2,573 rolling yards with elevation variations as high as 50 feet. Take to the par 35 course with a fellow divot devotee and launch dimpled orbs through the air in spirited re-creations of the Apollo 12 moon landing. Each green on the course is now an average of 5,000 square feet in size, with recently built mounding around the holes adding nuance and difficulty to each putt and slice. A recently installed irrigation system helps playing surfaces stay fresh for birdies and impromptu company picnics.
Boasting a combined resumé of 75 years of experience and more than 16,000 jumps, the members of Falcon Skydiving Team show off their aerial skills at exhibitions all over the states. They kicked off the US promotion of the latest Pokémon products with a whirling dive and perform as a highlight of the Richards-Gebaur air show. When not free-falling for audiences, they take up passengers with them and teach them the basics during tandem dives.
Since the age of 7, Skip Clinton has been hypnotized by the whirl of roller skates; among his fondest memories are those of boogying on wheels among hundreds of fellow skaters packed into one rink. Translating his love of the sport into a competitive drive, Skip won the 1986 Roller Figure Skating World Championship in Bogotà, Colombia, cementing his spot in the Roller Skating Hall of Fame. Still, none of that success could fully satisfy his dream of polishing skates in his very own rink.
In 1996, Skip connected with the new owners of River Roll Skate Center and helped restore the long-neglected rink to its modern glory, installing new floors, a jamming sound system, and computer-controlled lights. Three years later, decades of hard work paid off as he and his wife—also a competitive skater—took over River Roll Skate Center's operations full-time.
"There's never a day I don't want to go to work," says Skip with a glee normally reserved for children who get to eat pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dessert. He relishes duties such as keeping the floor immaculate—indeed, the polished arena reflects the ceiling's colored lights like a kaleidoscope—which, in his experience, is crucial to the success of any skate center. While Skip acknowledges that roller skating hasn't changed much over the years, skaters' expectations have. To that end, 35,000 songs populate the rink's computer, from '70s and '80s pop music to family-friendly hip-hop, rock, and country-western hits. Throughout the facility, video screens flash names of birthday celebrants, popular music videos such as Michael Jackson's "Thriller," and classic movies such as Footloose.
Elsewhere, the scent of fresh-baked pizza wafts from the concession stand, where rollers refuel with traditional snacks such as hot dogs or nachos, and an arcade dispenses entertainment and prizes with a variety of video games. Once a month, the Dead Girl Derby takes over River Roll Skate Center, captivating audiences with breakneck speed and no-holds-barred competition akin to the days when the ancient Romans strapped chariots to the Titans' ankles.