Ice Skating Venues
There was a time when ice skates hung on a nail in the woodshed, to be brought down when the farm pond or a nearby stream froze over. They were little like today’s skates, strapping or screwing to boots for use on natural ice.
Just as the sophistication of skating equipment has advanced, so, too, have expectations about the ice on which we skate. By 1876 John Gamgee was attempting to provide a more enjoyable experience, creating the Glaciarium, the first artificial ice rink, in London, England.
Today, there are few ponds where children congregate to skate and most public skating has gone indoors. Factory Pond in Salisbury is one of the few exceptions. When conditions are right the public is invited to skate on the pond, with signs posted to indicate when conditions are safe. Anyone skating on Factory pond does so at his or her own risk.
Other outdoor experiences can be found, weather permitting, at two state parks in the region: The John A. Minetto State Park on Route 272 in Torrington and at Burr Pond State Park, also in Torrington, Route 8.
And Litchfield has a small public rink located right behind the Town Hall that is open to anyone.
For those who prefer more controlled conditions, Hotchkiss School generously opens its Dwyer Rink to the public Saturdays from 11 AM to 12:30 PM through February 17th.
The cost is $3 per person and participants are required to conform to regulations set down by the school. Skating is permitted in the line of direction only (the line of direction changes every 15 minutes) and skating must be done slowly and under control, no games are permitted on the ice and a coned section in the center of the rink is for instruction. Skaters should wear protective equipment, with helmets, gloves and elbow pads recommended. All participants must bring their own skates as no rentals are available. Cancellations due to weather are posted on the Salisbury town website, linked below.
In Washington, CT, the Gunnery School extends the same courtesy. Family skating is allowed on the school’s Linen Rink, 99 Greenhill Road (Route 47), Sundays, 5 to 7 PM, through March 4. The fee is $5 per person. –
In Kent, the Park and Recreation Commission teams with South Kent School, 40 Bull's Bridge Road, to offer public skating as follows: open skate: January 7th, 2:45-4:45 PM; January 14th: 2-4 PM; January 27th: 2-4 PM; February 4th: 1-3 PM; February 11th: 2:30-4:30 PM; February 18th: 2:30-4:30 PM; and February 25th, March 4th, 11th, 18th, 25th: 2-4 PM.
Skaters must wear hat and skates on the ice. A park pass is required and can be purchased at the rink during skating hours; $35/Kent residents; $65/non-residents for season pass; $5/person/day. Call 860-927-1003 for more information.
Figure skating lessons for boys and girls, ages 6 and over, are being offered, 7-8 AM, at the Kent School ice rink this winter. The second session starts January 6th, and runs four Saturdays through January; session three is February 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th. The cost is $44 per session. Registration flyer available on the Kent Parks and Recreation website under "Forms."
Farther north, the Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires, 16 Melville Street in Pittsfield, Mass., offers public skating Saturdays and Sundays, 3-4:45 PM unless otherwise posted. This Saturday’s public skate has been cancelled, however, due to a high school hockey match. For information, call 413-448-8258 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Pittsfield Figure Skating Club, also at 16 Melville Street, has a 10-minute free skate before each session. The skater will then be in a 25-minute group lesson. After the lesson, skaters have another 10-minute free skate. For additional information, e-mail Tracy Fancher at email@example.com or Jamie Bannon, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pittsfield Parks Speed Skating Club also welcomes new members of all ages, including those with no skating experience. For more information, contact Anna Paladino, PPSSC treasurer/secretary, at 413-442-1828 or email@example.com.
Canterbury Farm Outdoor Recreation Center, 1986 Fred Snow Road, Becket, MA, offers ice skating and equipment rentals. Skating lessons for small groups or private are available. Call 413-623-0100 for information.