Constructing treasured ice: Mountain Recreation brings outside ice to Edwards for third straight 12 months

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Mountain Recreation employees and a group of community volunteers are building an outdoor ice rink in Edwards in 2020. This year, the district will build two ice rinks on Sunday, December 11th.
Mountain Rec/Photo courtesy

For the third year in a row, Mountain Recreation is bringing outdoor ice cream to Edwards. But this year, with new investments — both in infrastructure and financial contributions — the recreation district is bringing two ice rinks to Freedom Park in December.

The project has been driven, cared for and used by the community since its inception, beginning with a group of fathers in Singletree who wanted to build an outdoor ice rink, according to Tom Boyd, a local hockey dad who works for the Vail Valley Foundation.

“When I was growing up in Vail in the ’80s, there were ponds you could skate on everywhere. We’ve always been a ski town, but we’ve also always been a hockey town,” Boyd said. “And all my best memories from my childhood — I liked skiing, but I really loved hockey — were just skating and playing (hockey); There was never a shortage of ice.”

Boyd said the grassroots effort began with fathers wanting to instill the same memories in their children.

“Well, if you don’t go out there and build those ice rinks, my kids won’t have the same opportunity I have; We want to carry on that hockey legacy,” Boyd said. “Every generation has a responsibility to do that and it’s my turn to help lead a group of other guys and gals, moms and dads who want their kids to be able to go out and skate.” to run.”

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In 2020, the group of Singletree dads used Mountain Rec to bring their vision of an outdoor ice rink to life in their neighborhood. And for the past two years, a group of volunteers led by Boyd and Mountain Rec employees have built and maintained an ice rink in the Freedom Park parking lot.

However, according to Brad Johnson, the Edwards facility supervisor for Mountain Rec, the community has really outgrown this single rink.

“At the end of each season of our rinks, we meet with our volunteers and staff who maintain the rink,” Johnson said. “They really communicated that there really is a need for a second ice rink for the community, both for normal public skating and for the people who play hockey.”

This year, to accommodate the space required for two ice rinks, they will be located just east of the Freedom Park playground near the baseball fields.

In addition to the investments made to create the second ice rink, several infrastructure investments were made to improve the overall experience for the construction and maintenance of the ice rinks. These include a new water line to service the rinks, a new EZ-Ice system and structure, a hot water machine for ice renewal, and hockey nets.

On Sunday, December 11 at 2:00 p.m., the recreation area will host its annual construction day and invite community members to help build the ice rinks and start layering the ice. And with the new EZ Ice system, build day should be easier than ever.

“It’s like putting Lego bricks together now, it’s so much easier,” Boyd said, adding that construction with the new system will involve clicking the boards together, laying the liner and pouring the first layer of water .

“(Volunteers) can expect a lot of camaraderie, seeing their neighbors and having fun. It should be light work, there’s not a lot of heavy lifting, there’s not a lot of difficult tooling,” he added. “A lot is just getting to know each other and signing up when you can help get the ice for the rest of the year.”

As Boyd mentioned, the ice will be maintained by community volunteers throughout the season – which is expected to start around Christmas and, according to Johnson, will last until the end of February, weather permitting. This includes daily tasks like shoveling, brushing the ice and refreshing the ice.

“There’s nothing more satisfying than making your community comfortable being in this city, and in this city we just have an incredible volunteer spirit,” Boyd said. “Once we get the word out everyone does what they can and help us not only make the ice, but wait until around February depending on the weather.”

In its third year, the community spirit surrounding the outdoor ice rinks speaks to not only ice, but a center for winter gathering and recreation.

“Ice is precious,” Boyd said. “The demand for it is so great that everyone wants to come out. They want to teach their kid to skate, they can have a romantic date, they can skate outside, they can go out and play hockey, they can learn to skate and they can do it all in the neighborhood in this outdoor environment.”

For Mountain Recreation, its outdoor ice rinks embody what it seeks to achieve in the communities it serves.

“In 2020, the Edwards community turned to Mountain Recreation to build an outdoor ice rink, evidently in the heart of COVID. Community members were looking for ways to safely recreate, and a community rink was a great way to do that,” Johnson said. “Mountain Recreation sees benefits in the mental, physical, and social-emotional health of our residents, and this is enhanced through the creation and activation of spaces that strengthen bonding and connectedness with others in our community.”

In addition to Mountain Rec’s financial contributions, Johnson said investment from the Edwards Metro District, Vail Mountaineer Hockey Club, Mountain Recreation Foundation, Singletree and Vail Honeywagon enabled expansion and improvements.

Once teams can build up enough ice, the rinks are expected to open around Christmas. After the opening, the two new ice rinks will be open to the public from 7 a.m. The lights come on at night, but turn off when the rinks close at 9:00 p.m. each evening. One rink is expected to be used for more traditional open skating, while the other will be used for drop-in hockey.

The ice rink, skates and all hockey equipment are available free of charge.

To learn more or to register as a volunteer, visit MountainRec.org or click here.