The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 18, 2014

Central Vermont's Most Popular Weekly Newspaper

Ice, Ice Baby?

With the fluctuating temperatures this winter it has been difficult for the Proctor skating rink to stay open for more than a few days at a time. But when the temperatures have cooperated the rink is still fulfilling its original purpose of "a clean, safe place" for skating as it has done for 88 years.

After a trip to the Proctor Free Library I uncovered a story about how the idea of the skating rink came about.

According to Marble Chips Magazine, the Proctor Rink originated in 1920 when "some of the boys, just returned from fighting the war which was to end all wars but didn't, tried to maintain a skating surface on Beaver Pond." 

About four years later the American Legion Post in Proctor decided to build a rink as a community welfare project and one of the first artificial rinks in Vermont opened. The Legionnaires decided to flood Warner field, the high school baseball diamond and a small warming shanty was built. The rink continued in that location for about ten years when in 1933, for various reasons, members of the Post decided to move it to the grove to the east and build a new warming house.

The new location was wooded and it took 400 man-hours to cut down the trees, dig down six feet and cart away the dirt with a wheelbarrow. There was even a story about how the commander of the Post seemed to have mistaken his foot for a root while swinging his ax.

Believe it or not there was also a bobsled run constructed that ran from the top of Olympus Road, with banked turns that went around the skating area and spilled out onto the baseball diamond. The slide was iced by spraying and bobsledders could reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour. The bobsled run was finally abandoned for reasons deemed "difficult to maintain as well as somewhat hazardous."

Today, the rink is just as popular with the Proctor residents. Ice is made by flooding the area using a fire hose and then grooming it using a Zamboni that attaches to a tractor. Rink managers this year are Bonnie and R.J. Elrick and Denise and John Anderson. The Elricks ran the rink the three past seasons.

If you don't have skates you can borrow some at the rink. Their stock of ice skates has grown over the years with many donations. They have everything you might need inside the rustic warming hut including bathroom facilities and a television playing family movies to entertain you while you munch on your giant chocolate chip cookie and hot chocolate.

The rink also offers hockey and if you don't own your own stick you can most likely find one there to use too. Helmets are required if you want to play hockey. The ice rink emphasizes safety and there are a number of helmets for use lining the walls and many stacked milk crates that can help the beginning skaters get their footing.

The current rink hours are Monday-Friday 4:30 p.m. - 9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. and Sunday 12:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. During school vacations they are open Monday-Friday 11:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. You can always call to double-check at 459-2819. You can get daily updates on ice conditions by looking up their facebook page as well.

During extended closings, they hold movie nights and "hang out" nights for area youth. Thank you to the ice managers and volunteers who make it possible for everyone to enjoy skating in such a beautiful location- it really does feel like you are in a Norman Rockwell painting.

Proctor Place _woman

Tagged: proctor place, Ice skating, Proctor skating rink