Skaters hit the ice as Van Buren rink opens for the season

VAN BUREN, Maine — In the midst of social distancing and remote learning, Van Buren residents have the chance to get out and socialize on ice as the rink opens for the season. 

Recreation Director Dean Gendreau was out on the ice Wednesday clearing off the last bits of snow before the rink opened for the first time this year. Gendreau said he had hoped they would have been able to open sooner, but with inclement weather, he preferred families stay home safe and off the roads. On Wednesday, Dec. 29, there was a slight mist in the air but the roads were clear, making it a great day for skaters to strap up their laces.

Skaters take a break on the ice to socialize with friends in Van Buren on Dec. 29. (Emily Jerkins | St. John Valley Times)

Gendreau started working with the district in November and was aware the local school kids have been under quarantine and doing remote learning, making socialization a bit more difficult for children in the area. Gendreau hopes to get kids more active and to engage with each other, but also there are some guidelines he had to follow.

“We don’t have concessions right now,” Gendreau said. “People in the building are there just to change, not really to hang out. We even checked with the school and the nurse to make sure that kind of thing would be okay.” 

Laced up and ready to go, children of Van Buren walk out onto the ice rink on its opening day Dec. 29. (Emily Jerkins | St. John Valley Times)

With new restrictions and weather changes, Gendreau said the rink reopening will be a little slow. For now the rink will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

“We may not be open this weekend because we should be getting more snow,” Gendreau said. “Come Friday I’ll be able to decide if we’re going to do the rest of the weekend. When school gets in next week, we’ll likely change our hours – add some night stuff at some point.” 

Gendreau said that some adult programs are in the works for a little bit later in the season, but the focus at this point is on the school schedule with the goal to get kids outside and active.

“It should be interesting. Hopefully the kids will have fun,” he said.

Skaters lace up before hitting the ice on opening day at the rink in Van Buren, Maine on December 29, 2021. (Emily Jerkins | St. John Valley Times)

The Van Buren Recreation Department page on Facebook will be updating rink hours and activities for anyone interested in taking up this classic winter sport. 


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