Fairgrounds Outdoor Skating Rink Likely to Open this Weekend

Bing.com aerial view of the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds municipal arena

December 12, 2013

by Timothy W. Scee II
Special to Newzjunky.com

, N.Y.  
An outdoor skating rink will soon find its home at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds, following the popularity of the city’s first reintroduction of an outdoor skating rink in decades last winter.

Parks and Recreation Superintendent Erin E. Gardner Wednesday said the city is relocating its rink from last year’s location at Thompson Park to tie in with some activities related to the return of Snowtown USA in January.

“Right now we’re trying to keep the snow clear from the fields so that the ground freezes,” Mrs. Gardner said. “If weather cooperates, (Parks and Recreation crews) are either going to start flooding tomorrow night or Friday night.”

Last winter, fluctuating temperatures caused headaches for city crews assigned to the maintenance of the outdoor rinks.  Warm temperatures two years ago prevented crews from even forming an outdoor rink at all.

“We had to redo that rink, I think, three times last year because it would get cold, get warm, and get cold again,” she said. “We will keep this one as long as we can.”

While most of the visitors to the city’s outdoor rink last year enjoyed common ice activities like skating and hockey, Mrs. Gardner said some residents brought bicycles to onto the ice to do some “ice biking.”

The Parks and Recreation superintendent said the outdoor rink will include some outdoor hockey games during Snowtown USA, including one to benefit Wounded Warriors.

“If people are not public skating and kids want to bring some hockey sticks and shoot a puck around, there’s nothing wrong with that," she said.

Mrs. Gardner said some plans for Snowtown USA, a six-day event to celebrate winter in the city, were finalized after a meeting Wednesday evening.

The event will kick off with fireworks at 6 p.m., Dec. 31, at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds and will feature several on-site events including snowman building competitions, children’s crafts, a Watertown Privateers hockey game and snow softball tournament.

A chowder cook-off, Mrs. Gardner said, was taken off the activities list.

“We are starting to get sponsors for things, so hopefully by the end of next week, we will have them for everything,” she said.  

The event will finish at Dry Hill Ski Area, 23682 County Route 67, with a torch-carrying down the hill.

“I think it all came together very well and the (Greater Watertown-North Country Chamber of Commerce) has been a huge help,” she said.  “There have been a few committee members who have done a lot of the work to get everything done so it’s definitely coming together.”

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