Times are hard and some people can't pay the fee to find their families a little bit of entertainment.

Times are hard and some people can't pay the fee to find their families a little bit of entertainment.

Now they can do that job for free.

For two nights a week at Skate Zone 71 on Evanswood Drive, there is no fee for taking to the roller rink.

Through Aug. 20, "Affordable Family Fun Nights" are being held on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 9:30 and Thursdays from 6 to 9.

That's affordable as in ... free.

"We just recognized that there's such a need for families to find affordable entertainment, especially given the current climate with regards to the economy," said Bobbi Burke, general manager for Skate Zone 71.

Admission during those times normally would be between $6 and $7, Burke said.

Customers who need skates will have to pay the usual rental of $3 for roller skates and $4 for Rollerblades, according to operations manager Christopher Archer.

Those who have their own are invited to attend as well, according to Burke.

Tuesday evening's Affordable Family Fun Night features hip-hop and R&B music, while pop rock is played Thursdays.

"So we've got something for every taste," she said.

Turnout for the initial free events has been good, Burke said, and they are drawing people of all ages.

"Everything from preschoolers to grandparents," she said.

Affordable Family Fun Nights might serve to introduce new people to roller skating or bring back into the fold people who dropped the pastime for one reason or another, but Burke said that's not the main reason for holding them.

"For us it was just really a way to stay involved in the community and kind of give back to the families who have supported us for so long," she said.

What's now Skate Zone 71 has been in operation under one name or another for almost 37 years, she said.