More than 20,000 New Jerseyans have lost their lives to COVID-19. Nationally, we've  passed 400,000 Americans dead. But it isn’t just human life that this pandemic is killing. It’s businesses, jobs, the economy, and in some cases people’s childhood touchstones.

The Deptford Skating Center has been around for generations. It’s old school. It’s a huge roller skating rink, 15,000 square feet worth of fun that could accommodate a maximum crowd of 350 skaters at one time.

Kids had their birthday parties there generations ago. And you can bet those kids grew up and had kids of their own who then had birthday parties there.

It contains a 16-foot jungle gym to add to children’s experiences.

Community-minded, during the pandemic they even made their business available as a learning center for remote internet instruction.

It all ends Jan. 23.

Owner Nick Mazeika says it’s a direct result of the pandemic.

“We tried to stay open as long as we could to assist during these difficult times, but that is no longer a possibility.”

“We realize this is short notice, but the circumstances that led to our closing date were beyond our control,” read a note from the center posted on social media. “The pandemic has hit us very hard and we are unable to continue our operations.”

This is heartbreaking.

New Jersey’s death toll is far greater than 20,000. It’s businesses like these, the ones that are rare and won’t come back again to the Jersey landscape. It’s other businesses that provided jobs by which people took care of their families. It’s jobs lost that took health benefits away from already sick people. It’s memories taken. It’s families kept apart. It’s funerals with empty chairs and loved ones saying goodbye from the other side of cemetery fences. It’s children losing social contact and forgetting how to interact in person in a world that already relies too much on technology. It’s teachers who haven’t even met their students yet this year.

It’s so many things.

The beloved Deptford Skating Center is a symbol of all of it.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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