Community rink gets first-timers out on skates

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Voluntown - posted Mon., Jan. 28, 2013
Abigail, 5, gets a sip of hot chocolate from Dan Matheson and Courtney Magario. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Abigail, 5, gets a sip of hot chocolate from Dan Matheson and Courtney Magario. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

Seven-year-old Aaron has been on ice skates only once, and that was two years ago. He’s forgotten a lot from that first experience, but luckily his dad, Aaron Beaulieu, Sr., is right next to him to hoist him back up when he falls. “I told him, ‘Your butt’s going to get the most workout,'” he said.

A brilliant sun warmed an otherwise chilly Sunday afternoon for skaters at the community skating party and bonfire on Jan. 27. The town skating rink, set up at Voluntown’s Constitution Field, was crowded with adults and children, many of whom, like 9-year-old Katie, were skating for the first time. “It’s hard,” she said. “I’m trying to glide. But I can’t stand up.”

Last winter’s mild weather made outdoor skating impossible, so young Aaron couldn’t practice. “I got him a second-hand pair of skates two years ago,” Beaulieu explained. “He’s outgrown them since then, but they have skates here in a box that you can borrow.”

In previous years, the community’s post-Christmas bonfire, sponsored by the town’s recreation commission, has been held at night. This year, perhaps because of near-zero night temperatures, the event was rescheduled for a Sunday afternoon, which turned out to be sunny and brisk, but not bone-chilling.

For those who needed warming up, two choices were available: a cup of steaming hot cocoa, ladled from a large stockpot set on a propane heater, or a spot near the bonfire that was periodically fed with scrap wood.

“This is such a great program,” said Joshua Kuhl of Sterling, who was helping his son, Camden, learn to skate. “When I was growing up we didn’t have too many activities like this. It’s great that we can get the kids involved.” Camden, he said, had rollerbladed but had never been on ice skates before. “Protect your head,” he warned his son. “No broken bones today.”

The recreation commission provided the plastic crate full of donated ice skates for new young skaters to borrow. Typically they’re only available at Town Hall during the week’s business hours, but they were carted across the street for the day’s celebration. Town officials said that the rink is lighted at night for the townspeople’s enjoyment.

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