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Aspinwall Riverfront Park debuts free skating rink

The first sections of Aspinwall Riverfront Park aren’t scheduled to open until later this year, but the community is still making the most of the land in the meantime.

The park’s development team and more than 150 volunteers have worked together to construct an ice rink on the former brownfield while construction on the first phases of the park is ongoing. The rink is 108 feet by 88 feet and free to the public.

“It’s going to be open as long as the weather is cold enough to accommodate us,” says park developer Susan Crookston. “If you have your own skates, you can skate beginning at 9 a.m. We’ll have food and skates available after 3:30 p.m.”

In addition to the rink, the park has a hut — staffed by Aspinwall Everyday Gourmet — offering snacks and hot cocoa during after-school hours and on weekends, and about 50 pairs of skates in both child and adult sizes which visitors can borrow for free.

Though they haven’t been able to spring for a Zamboni, park caretakers do have a device they’re using to smooth out the surface of the ice on a daily basis, and the maintenance of the rink has been something of a shared responsibility.

“The people who are using the rink help keep it clear,” Crookston says. “We bought a device to smooth the ice, but kids have had a lot of fun shoveling snow off the ice to keep it clean.

In addition to free ice skating and hot cocoa, the park’s winter facilities include a fire pit over which visitors can roast marshmallows. While visitors bringing their own skates are free to begin using the rink at 9 a.m. daily, free skate rental and snacks are available from 4 to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 12 to 7:30 p.m. on weekends.

Writer: Matthew Wein
Source: Susan Crookston
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