When asked to compare open air skating to an indoor arena, Greenwood rink volunteer Christopher Yates said the outdoor ice is faster, the puck runs better, and you can hear the sounds of the blades cutting into the ice differently. “It’s an interesting experience.”
Several volunteers came forward to make the opening of the Greenwood rink happen this season.
In late November, Ray Harrison, John Hunt and Don Edmundson wrote to council asking for permission to flood the rink. Mike Goddard, Christopher Yates and many others came forward as well to help.
As well as flooding the rink, they painted over some of the graffiti—a project that had to be left incomplete because the weather turned too cold and the paint wouldn’t set up. “So we painted over all the graffiti in the one room and set up benches inside,” Yates said.
The energy of the group seemed to infect the community as they soon had 45 pairs of skates donated in anticipation of the opening. Updates on social media kept the community informed.
For a while the weather wasn’t cooperating— it was just too warm to make good ice. But the last week of 2014 turned perfect and they celebrated with a New Year’s Eve candlelight skate with hot dogs and hot chocolate.
Yates said there was a bonfire for the kids. “We had about 50 people in attendance from across the Boundary,” Yates told the Times. “On New Year’s Day the Grand Forks Border Bruins came and played a game of shinny. Two members of the Midway RCMP showed up and we had over 100 people come throughout the day.”
People from across the Boundary showed up to try the ice, many who hadn’t been on open ice since they were kids. “It was roast your own hot dogs and we served the hot chocolate,” said Yates. “It was a really nice family day.”
Bob Bugeaud of Border Country Realty sponsored the hot dogs, hot chocolate and pop.
Clearing the snow from an outdoor rink with boards isn’t a simple task. All of the snow has to come out of one of the two ends of the rink. But with the assistance of many people, the job was done. Guys like Barry Noll and Mayor Ed Smith brought out their ATVs to help get the job done.
Yates said that John Hunt was instrumental at watching the thermometer like a hawk. “When it’s time to flood he’d give us all a call and we would go to work. Leo Jacob, who used to flood a rink every year at Jewel Lake, came to lend his experience too.”
Harrison said many of older guys, such as Art Mudrie, pitched in even though he doesn’t have grandkids living locally. Perhaps they felt it important to pass on the experience of skating outdoors to the youngsters of the Boundary.
In the end it was “the community helping the community get our rink back,” Yates said. “It is the Greenwood outdoor rink volunteers. Thanks to Mike Goddard, the lights were rewired.”
Goddard lent his generator, and between that and a line run from My Udder Store, all 11 lights were working for the New Year’s Eve skate.
The organizers have plans for the future. They’d like to be able to host a KIJHL Winter Classic game, perhaps this year.
Their main goal for this year is to keep the rink open as much as they can. To help in that, City Hall has confirmed they will provide a portapotty for the rink for the balance of this season.
In the spring, volunteers are looking forward to repainting all of the boards and replacing them as needed. There is even talk of getting local businesses to put signage on the boards to generate some revenue, perhaps holding an outdoor spring fling dance with a local band and putting the skate park equipment that was donated by Unity this summer for the kids to use.
One potential roadblock to these plans exists in a council motion passed in April 2013 to demolish the boards at the rink. Yates said the volunteer group is planning to come to the Greenwood council meeting on Jan. 12 to ask council to rescind that motion.
“Lots of people want to skate,” said Yates. “That was shown on New Year’s Day.”
He said watching a dad teach their three-year- old how to go to the puck and shoot was heart warming.