Sunday was a good day for a first day on the ice.
Sunny. Calm. A temperature hovering around 30 degrees at 2 p.m.
And the last day there would be ice open for public skating at Fort Wayne’s Headwaters Park – at least until next season.
Ed Scott of Fort Wayne bundled up the grandkids and headed to the rink. Once there Carliegh Scott, 4, and her brother Cameron got down to business – learning to ice skate with the rink equivalent of training wheels.
It’s an assemblage of white plastic pipe called a trainer and it looks roughly like an elderly person’s walker.
My grandpa helped me, and then I got the hang of it, Cameron said, before heading off to the ice for the first time without a trainer.
Ed Scott said this was the first time the kids – whom he’s taken roller-skating – had tried skating on blades.
We’ve never done it before and didn’t know it was the last day, he said. It was the first nice day we could get together, and the kids like to be outside.
Indeed, said Jack Rhinehart, the rink’s assistant manager, Sunday was a picture-perfect ending to a good season.
Things are going swimmingly well. Well, I don’t mean that in a literal sense. We still have good ice, he said from his vantage point by the rink’s snack bar. Things are going great.
As about four dozen skaters glided around the covered rink, Rhinehart said the only slip-up this year was a chiller that expired Dec. 23, a few days after the season opened.
The machine, he said, gave up the ghost on the day of a downtown power failure, forcing the rink to close for a few hours until another could be rented.
Even though the weather was warmer than usual for a while, Rhinehart said, there’s been no problem keeping up the ice.
With cold weather expected this week, it would not be a problem keeping the rink open, but park workers have to ready the area for this year’s spring and summer festival season, he said.
Rhinehart said rink attendance is expected to top 22,000 for the season. That’s about average, he said; the official tally won’t come until later this week.
During the off-season, parks officials plan to continue raising money to buy a new chiller, which will probably cost about $100,000, Rhinehart said. Some good-sized donations already have come in, he said.
Despite the addition of indoor ice rinks at Lutheran Health Sportscenter (formerly Canlan Ice Sports), there’s still plenty of demand for Headwaters’ ice, Rhinehart said.
Adults can skate all day for $5, kids 13 and under skate for $3 and skates rent for $2, Rhinehart said, making it an economical spot for a family outing.
We’re entry level. We just want to get people back on skates and have some fun, he said, noting the rink draws from not only Fort Wayne but also Ohio, Michigan and parts of Indiana to the west, north and south of Fort Wayne.
Nate Housholder, 14, was inclined to agree.
It’s really fun. We’re from Kendallville, so this is the closest ice we can get, said the freshman at East Noble High School.
He came to the rink with his brother Tyler, 17, an East Noble senior; Tyler’s girlfriend, Paige Romer, 18 and Romer’s sister, Myah, 14, and brother, Derek, 21.
I’ve never ice skated in my entire life, said Derek during a brief break while a Zamboni whirred behind him grooming the surface.
Me too, said Myah. I only fell like 20 times. But I had fun.
Corbin Fox planned on having fun, too. He came to the rink from Sharpsville outside Kokomo to celebrate his 11th birthday.
Among the gaggle of his accompanying relatives were his grandma and grandpa, Karen and Ed Byer of New Haven; his aunt and uncle, Stacy and Mike Williams of Fort Wayne; his mom and dad, April and Travis Fox; his brother, Tyler and two cousins, Ryne and Taylor Williams.
The Williams children are rink denizens, said Stacy Williams, noting her daughter Taylor’s birthday was celebrated at the rink last year.
We come out here all the time. Our kids love it, Stacy Williams said.
But it’s my first time, said Corbin.