ice skating

Backyard Ice Rinks Gaining Popularity

While backyard ice rinks have existed for generations, installers say they have seen an increase in business as people seek ways of socializing outside this winter.

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If ice skating is increasing in popularity this year, you might be able to point to the pandemic as a reason.

Unlike the warm spring and summer months, and even some crisp fall days, it has become very challenging to socialize outdoors lately. Some people have gotten creative and are building backyard ice rinks.

This is not necessarily a new thing, just one that is increasing in popularity. SAVOL Pools of East Hartford installs backyard rinks. They say installations have doubled this year.

“We saw more and more families that their children may not necessarily play hockey that wanted to still have a backyard skating rink,” said Ken Camello of SAVOL Pools.

Behind their Durham home, the Gresh family has an 80 by 40-foot, homemade hockey rink. They built it two years ago. Amidst the pandemic, they appreciate it even more today.

“We are so grateful for it. Especially with the shut down,” said Sara Gresh. “The kids can come out skate as long as the weather lets it.”

Gresh says this rink is the only way her 8- and 6-year-old children, Hudson and Stella, can be with friends right now. She says it allows them to stay socially distanced and still have outdoor fun.

“After dinner they’ll come out and skate at least for an hour or so just before bed,” she said.

The popularity of backyard rinks has been compounded by people’s desire to socialize outside. Camello said he has seen people treat their rink like they used to treat their backyard deck.

“The lights went up around the rink. Then the fire pit was right next to it. The grill. The only thing they didn’t do yet was put the sound-system up there,” said describing one set up he has seen.

Ice rink owner Bob Crawford believes there’s another factor. As schools have gone remote, organized aerobic activity has been limited.

“Kids have lost their physical education opportunity at school for the most part,” explained Crawford. “This is a great activity if you’re outdoors.”

Backyard rinks have another upside. Crawford say he learned to skate on one as a kid, before becoming a professional hockey player in the NHL.

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