ROCKPORT—Midcoast Recreation Center was doing well with its indoor ice skating rink until the COVID-19 virus and its protocols changed their capacity limits. What that meant for the nonprofit organization is that fewer kids and adults could use their facilities. So, to remedy that, they built another ice skating rink outdoors.
“It was partly due to the limited numbers we could offer for public skating for our indoor rink,” said Arena Director Jesse Simko. “We had people on a waitlist who just wanted to skate. We knew if we built something outside, we could serve more people.”
By mid-January, the 40 x 80-foot outdoor rink was operational with eight to 10 inches of solid ice.
“We built it a little later than we wanted to,” he said. “Originally, we built the ice rink in December, but soon realized the land was too off-center, so we had to move everything slightly up the hill and bring in more fill, but it’s going pretty well. We’ve been able to get some good days in.”
Half the week (M-W-F), the rink is open to the public all day and the other half (T & TH) it’s open to kids who play hockey. On the weekends, the rink splits its time for both groups.
With screen time for kids soaring during a pandemic that has them remaining at home either from remote learning or through homeschooling, parents have been looking for any socially distant opportunity to get their kids outside and active.
MRC had this concept firmly in mind with the new outdoor rink.
A group of four boys in MRC’s 8U program (seven and eight-year-olds) were on the ice on the day Pen Bay Pilot came to take photos. Eager to get their energy out, they chased the puck around the rink.
“Because of number restrictions, we wanted to give the option to kids who are doing homeschooling and remote learning to come and play three days a week, especially in the winter,” said Simko.
Inclement weather isn’t a hindrance when it comes to clearing the ice off. They have a hose system with a towel like a mini Zamboni to clear the ice. “When it’s really deep, we need a snowblower,” said Simko, who added, he’d be open to any volunteers who wanted to come help with outdoor clean up after a big snowstorm.
To learn more about MRC’s ice programs visit Midcoast Recreation Center’s website.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org