Winter Information: Outside skating rinks prepared when climate is

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Jason Curtis of Gorham practices hockey with his daughter Casey at the rink near Narragansett Elementary School in Gorham last January. Archive photo

Maine’s time-honored tradition of ice skating melted with moderate temperatures and rain after Christmas, but officials at some outdoor rinks are patiently holding out until temperatures drop.

“We just need some cold weather,” said Neal Reynolds, the Free Rink’s outdoor operations supervisor at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.

Open water and snow on January 6 at the Shaw Cherry Hill Farm ice rink off Route 25 in Gorham. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Cindy Hazelton, director of Gorham Recreation, said she’s keeping her fingers crossed for cooler temperatures for the city’s three rinks: behind Old Robie School, at 668 Gray Road; at Narragansett School, Main Street; and Shaw Cherry Hill Farm, Route 25.

“For the time being, we will be hosting a pop-up event on Saturday, January 28 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. where Gorham Parks and Rec will be on site with free skate rentals, hot chocolate and music,” Hazelton said on January 6. January .

“If we get snow… we’ll be able to borrow our snowshoes for free, too,” Hazelton said.

In Windham, public skating is available at Donnabeth Lippman Park on Chaffin Pond, 18 Chaffin Pond Road off Route 302.

Linda Brooks, director of Windham Recreation, said she was putting on hold for an upcoming s’mores and skate night from 6pm to 8pm on January 27.

“We’re hoping that over the next few days these colder temperatures will restore the great ice that we had during the Christmas holiday week,” Brooks said earlier this month.

Westbrook has free public ice rinks on Lincoln Street and Stroudwater Street.

“Because they’re not chilled, there won’t be any ice until we have a good stretch of 10 degrees or colder temperatures, probably in late January,” said Greg Post, director of community services.

In Buxton there is an outdoor rink at Bonny Eagle Middle School, 92 Sokokis Trail. The illuminated ice rink is open daily from 4:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

The ice rink behind Newbegin Gym on Main Street in Gray is open to the public during the day. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Natural skating opportunities include the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s 40-acre Chandler Mill Pond (formerly Lily Pond) on Chandler Road in New Gloucester.

Mark Latti from the IFW gives some precautionary tips for skaters there and at other natural ponds and streams.

“Ice safety for skaters… it’s a hot topic, I would give them the same advice I give ice fishermen,” he said.

This includes:

• Always check the ice. Drill or cut a hole. For non-ice fishers, some household items you can use to check are a cordless drill with a 4-inch bit, a hatchet or ax, or a wood chisel. If you have an ice fisherman in the family or nearby, borrow their ice chisel or drill bit.

• Check the ice in several places. Ice conditions and thickness change, so check in different spots.

• Find 4 to 6 inches of solid ice to support a group of skaters.

• Stay away from the inlets and outlets of ponds. Currents can carry away ice.

• Ice may be thinner near headlands extending into a pond or on exposed rocks.

Most importantly, Latti said, check the ice and check it multiple times.

While waiting outside for the ice, skate indoors at the William B. Troubh Ice Arena at 225 Park Ave. in Portland.

“We’ve seen an increase,” says Jake O’Donal, arena manager, of patronage during the warmer outside temperatures. “People seem to enjoy it.”

The arena offers ice time to the public every day except Thursday. The cost is $6 per person and skate rental is $3. Call 774-8553 for times and more information.

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