The New Year is here and things are starting to get less hectic after the holidays, and I thought that it’s the perfect time to recognize a small group of very committed people. You may see members of this underground fraternity at 2 a.m., shoveling snow, fixing cracks, building walls, burning cattails, or painting lines to create a surface that all users would agree that when finished, rivals a Norman Rockwell painting. These local heroes are the backyard rink or pond managers.
Each rink has its own style/feel and no two are a like. Some are small; some are big. Many have boards with hard-wired lighting systems, while others use snow banks as boarders and provide lighting with 400 feet of extension cords attached to halogen light tripods. No matter what these rink makers day job schedules are, sleep is always last on the agenda. If the weather is optimal—which sometimes means -10 degrees outside --- they come out of their summer/fall hibernation, band together and provide one of the most breathtaking environments for neighborhood kids and hockey enthusiasts to enjoy.
Your tireless time and effort does not go unnoticed; your attention to detail is not overlooked. It does make a difference flooding the rink one more time even though your wife says that it looks good enough. I’ve been told that it’s a “SICKNESS”, and I believe more people should come down with the bug. What else can you create in your backyard that makes kids dream the big dream about one day playing on a team like one of their idols? I’ve never heard a kid on a jungle gym say, “ten seconds left, Crosby has the puck, he shoots, he SCORES!!”. There is nothing more exhilarating, than skating on a backyard rink or pond with your buddies and family under a full moon. For added pleasure, I highly recommend a fire pit, adult beverages for the more experienced (and legal) attendees and plenty of snacks and hot chocolate for the younger crowd.
For most schools winter break is about to begin. If you haven’t been to a backyard rink, take the time to experience what you’ve been missing. Once you try it, you’ll discover it’s something that is very difficult not to do again and again.
My hat goes off to all you rink makers of the frozen tundra. Keep up the good work. I’d also like to thank NiceRink for coming up with products that make the process of building and maintaining all of these hockey memory makers a bit easier.
Happy New Year to everyone and have a SweetHockey.com day,