Twirler says she got cold shoulder

Twirler says she got cold shoulder

URBANA — For Bonnie Reynolds, twirling a baton and skating helps relieve the stresses of life and puts her in a happy place.

But it's also putting her in a chilly place these days, and as the winter continues, it could soon be a snowy and icy place.

The 59-year-old Urbana woman frequently skates and twirls a baton at Hazel Park at the corner of Neil Street and Bradley Avenue in Champaign. Since the weather turned colder and rainy, she left her skates home and began twirling with a baton and two devil sticks more frequently inside Lincoln Square.

Several weeks ago, the shopping center's management told her she had to stop twirling inside the center or leave, so she left. Now, she's back outdoors skating and twirling in the park again.

"That was my haven, and now I don't have one," she said of Lincoln Square.

Reynolds has been skating for about 40 years and twirling for about a decade and also works for State Farm Center as an usher. It's both exercise and a de-stressor for her, she said, and she often skates and/or twirls these days while she drops off her mother at an adult day care facility.

But her skating and baton twirling haven't always gone over well in public facilities. She said she's also been thrown out of tennis courts and underground parking lots.

"I don't want to be thrown out any more," she said.

Reynolds said she's seen an elderly couple dancing and a man playing a guitar inside Lincoln Square and thought she could be comfortable twirling her baton there.

"I felt comfortable that they raised the arts up so much," she said.

Plus, Reynolds said, Lincoln Square can be so empty at times, it's "a ghost town" on Sundays.

"I don't understand why I can't use a little of their space when it's bad outside," she said.

Lincoln Square General Manager Wade Franklin said this was a potential liability issue.

Reynolds was twirling in the hallway across from Charter Fitness, and was also wearing headphones, he said.

"We had multiple complaints," Franklin said.

Reynolds wasn't evicted from Lincoln Square, he said. She can still come to the center to shop, dine or join the hundreds of people who get exercise there walking. Another problem developed, he said, when Reynolds insisted on walking backward, which was also considered a potential hazard to others at the center.

"She has no concept of whether anyone's around," he said.

"From what I've heard, there were multiple close calls."

Reynolds said walking backward provides her with the same kind of workout that in-line skating does, and she's unaware that she ever bothered anyone or put anyone else at risk.

While she doesn't have an indoor place to twirl right now, she said, she's not going to quibble with Lincoln Square's decision.

"If they don't want me there, I don't want to be there," she said.

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yeahokay wrote on January 09, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Ehh, maybe not front page worthy... but just 2 days ago I was having a conversation with somebody about how I hadn't seen Bonnie out and about lately and wondered what happened to her. She is kind of a community staple. 

itazurakko wrote on January 11, 2016 at 5:01 pm

I walk through Lincoln Square daily on my way to work, saw this woman many times, and it would never have occurred to me to consider her dangerous in any way.

Are people really that sensitive? What happens when you walk on actual city streets and encounter buskers and the like?

billbtri5 wrote on December 22, 2017 at 9:12 am

..someone  could get an eye poked out with one of those dang nabbed guitar strings...

Jsmith68 wrote on January 09, 2016 at 8:01 pm

Another great Rob comment.  Glad he took time out from busy court schedule to post again.

TyroneHogglegg wrote on January 14, 2016 at 3:01 pm

Rob plays basketball?

esotiro2 wrote on January 09, 2016 at 9:01 pm

No worries, Lincoln Square. I get where you're coming from. I was in there for a painting class last summer, and your building gave me the creeps.  You're just trying to protect people by asking them to not come to your mall, and it looks like thousands of other people have gotten the message, too. 

Conspicuous wrote on January 10, 2016 at 12:01 am
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I work at Lincoln Square and am a regular "mall walker". This lady was a nuisance.  She paid little or no attention to anyone around her,  and whenever she was twirling,  anyone walking by had to be very careful not to get hit by her because she sure wasn't going to watch out for anyone else.

Chambanacitizen wrote on January 10, 2016 at 11:01 am

She is right though.. There are plenty of other people doing things in the way... The couple dancing directly in the walk path... Guitars. You'd think Lincoln Square would want all the people they can get since they are getting closer and closer to demolition.

UIUCHoopFan wrote on January 10, 2016 at 2:01 pm

It's a liability issue pure and simple. The skating/twirling activity involves risk of injury to her and others. Complaints from the public? Perhaps. Complaints from Lincoln Square Risk Management? Definitely!

alabaster jones 71 wrote on January 12, 2016 at 12:01 am
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I can only imagine what a nuisance she must have been to all three of the people who frequent Lincoln Square.

Peace1954 wrote on January 12, 2016 at 8:01 pm

How would the News Gazette get this information for an article if she simply doesn't want to be at LS?   I was wondering if Market Place Mall would mind if she twirled and walked backwards there?  Please let me know. 

Fortis99 wrote on January 15, 2016 at 10:01 am

I am a bit is somebody walking backward a nuisance to other walkers, whom I assume are walking forward? Can't they see where they are going?

Sounds to me like there is a certain special group of walkers who don't want somebody in their midst who is doing something different. It's a huge space. Sharing is a concept most learn in Kindergarten.