ST. MARYS — Community members in St. Marys are enjoying an activity unique to the area this winter — ice skating.
City of St. Marys Parks and Recreation Director Dani Schneider said ice skating has been happening at the parks for a number of years.
Benzinger Park had a rink at the back parking lot once before, she said, as well as a natural ice skating pond at Kaulmont Park.
“We decided to bring skating back to Benzinger, in addition to utilizing the one at Kaulmont,” said Schneider.
This year’s rink, located in the basketball court, opened Jan. 9.
“The unique aspect of this rink is that it is completely portable. There are some things we plan to do differently next year, so this is a trial period for us,” Schneider said.
Providing activities year round for families is the basis of parks and recreation, she said.
“Ice skating is unique, because there’s not really many other places in our area that offer something like this,” Schneider said. “It’s an activity that can be done by the whole family, whether you’re a beginner or an expert. The weather doesn’t always cooperate here, but that hasn’t stopped people from coming to the park just to hang out with friends and family.
“Parks and recreation, especially during these confusing times, is one of the most essential service providers for the community, and we are glad to be able to offer something for everyone.”
Schneider noted that the Benzinger rink is for only ice skating.
“Those wishing to play hockey and such will need to use Kaulmont,” she said, noting that a student Parks worker is shoveling the pond off at Kaulmont.
Schneider said she hopes to see the rink stay open until March, weather permitting.
“We will keep the ice rink open for as long as we possibly can,” Schneider said. “We are looking into creating a few weekday hours to open after school as well.”
City of St. Marys Parks and Recreation received a $5,000 grant form Women Who Care of the Elk County Community Foundation, which allowed for the purchase of a portable rink, Schneider said.
“The nice thing about this rink is that it can literally be installed on any surface (except gravel),” she said. “We can also purchase expanders and make the rink larger as years go on. It’s very easy to install and tear down at the end of the season as well.”
Locals should watch the City of St. Marys Parks and Recreation Facebook page for updates on weather and rink conditions.
Schneider noted she would like to have supervision at Kaulmont for the following year, in addition to having Benzinger staffed.
“We did not forget about those over in that area of town,” she said. “As always, we are super appreciative of the support, donations, and patience from the community as we try new things.”