Old days vs. today!
Skating when I was a kid took place when my Dad cleared the snow off an area on Mud Pond in Paul Smiths.
We would take our skates, and a toboggan or sled — which sufficed as seating when we needed to change in and out of our skates. We would race around the rink, chasing after each other in a game of tag, and occasionally having a snowball fight until our curfew. Sometimes my Dad would soak cattails in kerosene, light them for us, and stick them in the snowbanks so we had outdoor lighting!
As I got older I skated at the outdoor rink in Saranac Lake and recall struggling to find a place close to the wood stove in the warming shack. Upon moving to Tupper Lake I skated on the outdoor rink in the municipal park and again warmed myself near the stove.
When the Tupper Lake Community began fundraising for a Civic Center I volunteered to be one of the many who solicited for donations because of my love for skating. Although I am fond of my childhood memories, skating in the arena was so much more comfortable and the ice was free of lumps! However, my skating days ended when I learned how much fun it was to ski at the Big Tupper Ski area with a T-bar or chair lift to take you to the top! Skiing became my new favorite winter activity so I packed my skates away.
The desire to ice skate would surface each winter, but with work and downhill skiing I never took the time to go to the rink. Almost two years into retirement my interest in getting to the rink was rekindled. I recalled they had public skating during the day which meant, quiet skating - no kids! Not that I don't like kids, I love them! But kids go fast and I know the rink can get crowded. I felt I needed to have some space to get accustomed to being on skates again without kids whizzing by me. Unfortunately, my first attempt ended rather quickly — as I put on my first skate at the arena - it blew out!
As far as winter activities go, skating is one of the least expensive ones. You only need skates, gloves and a hat! Public skating is free, well at least in Tupper Lake! Once my new skates came in I was anxious to get on the ice! On the 12th day of January the temperature rose and rain came down, so I headed to the rink with my skates, light gloves, hat and a couple of dollars for a drink. I figured my ankles may need a break!
There were only a couple of cars in the parking lot and as I entered the building I noticed nobody was on the ice. Betsy and Judy were on the bench removing their skates. Betsy stated most of the skaters show up at noon, the normal time public skating begins on week days, I had arrived at 1:30. The hours are posted in Wednesday’s Free Press and also stated on the Tupper Lake Central School website http://tupperlakecsd.net, click on Civic Center which is on the upper left, under calendars.
In the lobby skaters are to sign in, the sign-in sheet is located just to the right of the concession stand. The concession stand is open on weekends and during special events, if you are there when it is closed you can quench your thirst as there is a vending machine with beverages.
A trophy case is along one wall and next to it there is a box of free stuff, a nice way to pass along skates you have outgrown. If your skates need sharpening no worries, to the left of the lobby through another door you can drop your skates in the box and pick them up the next day, the sharpening cost is a mere $5.00!
The rink was still empty when I got my skates on, maybe that was a good thing! I was more unstable then what I had anticipated! My first lap was very slow, I hung close to wall so that I could latch on to it if need be. Being a cross country and downhill skier, the skates felt foreign on my feet! I felt like they needed to be longer in the front. I was happy that I was alone as I was quite verbal on my first few laps, lots of uh oh’s! I was also grabbing the wall often!
By the time three people arrived I was going a little faster not grabbing the wall and the uh oh’s subsided a bit. My goal was to just go forward without falling, I did not attempt and forward or backwards cross-overs, which I did years ago! I believe I will need several more times on the ice before I attempt those moves! I wonder did the toe picks size increase on skates?
I introduced myself to Kris, Golf Pro at the Tupper Lake Country Club and his girlfriend Noelle who attends college in Plattsburgh. Kris stated he seldom skates. I wondered how he got so good, he must be a natural! Noelle stated she skates often in Plattsburgh and it showed! The other young lady on the rink, Sabra, travels from Lake Clear, a 35 to 40 minute trip approximately three times a week to skate. Sabra played hockey, anyone that plays hockey has to be a good skater. She informed me she gets her skates sharpened every few weeks by placing them in the box, she attested that the skates are nicely sharpened for a very low price. I did a few laps with Sabra, she saved me from crashing a couple of times, those darn toe picks!
The Tupper Lake Memorial Civic was a wonderful addition to our community, hockey teams, curlers, ice skating clubs are all able to travel less to enjoy a sport of their choice. The rink is also used as a back-up venue for events in case of rain and it even serves as a birthday party location! To find out about reserving the rink or to see what else happens at the Civic Center visit their Facebook page Tupper Lake Memorial Civic Center.
Why not dig out those skates and visit the Tupper lake Memorial Civic Center! Why not come and stay a few days! Check out the accommodations, visit the well known Wild Center, ski on the Tupper Lake Groomed XC Ski Trails, see the new and improved Park Street and dine in restaurants. You can have a lot of fun in this little town without breaking the bank!