Skaters are gliding their way on a fun, family-friendly feature of Hamiota for the sixth winter season.
Bringing back memories of skating on a snow-covered frozen slough, the skating oval that has brought about family togetherness and recreational pleasure since 2008 continues to gain popularity with it becoming a tradition for some families on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Drawing on an idea from the neighbouring community of Rivers, Midwest recreation director, Bonnie Michaudville, thought it would be a great idea for Hamiota to have one. Over the years, that thought has brought forth excitement of school students and older adults alike.
Michaudville said the oval, located within the Hamiota campground west of the town’s arena, is very popular during school holidays along with weekends with evenings seeing the most use. She added that the oval is used also when tournaments are on at the nearby rink.
“Students find it a grand place for a Valentine’s party, as people can bring hot chocolate, share a fire in the fire pit, and cook hotdogs if that’s their desire,” said Michaudville. “There are no set rules for the skating oval, no charge to use it, and people skate at their own risk.”
It all depends on the weather to when the oval officially opens, with the 2012-13 season kicking off at the beginning of December.
“Putting up the lights each year, people really now look forward to the day that my presence is seen on the oval situated along Maple Avenue East,” said Michaudville.
“The skating oval is great for recreational skating at any time of the day. Users don’t have to worry about getting into the rink or going just at public skating time.”
It takes many hands at work to bring the oval to life. Initially, after the first major snowfall, Gary Slimmon prepares the surface by making ridges up the side and packing. Volunteers spend many hours flooding, using approximately 20 loads of water.
Although Leonard Allan and Sylvain Michaudville are the usual icemakers, this season the task fell in the hands of Michaudville and Gary Victor. As the icemaker, Michaudville, likes to colour the oval ice with a little bit of paint from the Sports Complex, and this season the community attraction has a nice “pink” colour to it.
After the outdoor ice is ready, Robin Davison, the facility foreman and his staff will go over it with the Zamboni to smooth it out. The Sports Complex staff and Slimmon oversee the skating oval for the rest of the season.
Skaters of all ages can also lace up or take a rest in a metal-clad shelter that sits on the western edge of the oval which is used year round, paid for by the Hamiota Municipal Park and erected by the Hamiota Lions Club. The shelter gets moved into the Lions playground for the summer months.
By designing the oval, the campground offers another great family activity in addition to camping, serving up recreational activities for all ages.