Hittin’ The Town at a frozen gem in Toledo

The open air ice rink has been part of the Ottawa Park landscape for more than a half century.
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 4:46 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 10, 2023 at 4:52 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Even though we’re in the middle of winter, there are a number of outdoor activities you can enjoy, including ice skating. The ice rink has been a part of the Ottawa Park landscape for more than half a century.

“It’s amazing the number of people who drive by and don’t even know it’s here,” said Karen Ranney Wolkins, Commissioner of Parks and Recreation for the City of Toledo. “It is more and more uncommon to find an open-air ice rink that was built and permanently placed for that purpose. If it’s snowing, you have beautiful snow falling down on you. If it’s clear, you see the stars. It is a beautiful experience to skate in the open air. We love being able to offer that to everyone.”

Through the years, the rink has provided fun for generations of families.

“It’s a special place. It has a lot of history for a lot of people in Toledo,” said Wolkins. “From engagements to hockey games, the rink has seen it all.”

And you don’t need to have any prior experience to take a spin around the rink.

“We have walkers to help you maneuver around the ice and we can help you put your skates on if you’ve never done it before,” said Wolkins. “We are welcoming, friendly and we want you to come enjoy this place. It’s for any age. We’ve had skaters as young as three and well into their 90s.”

It’s a great experience for your mind, body and soul. And it’s a place for everyone.

“When you get out on the ice it doesn’t matter how much money you have or don’t have. It doesn’t matter what education you have or don’t have,” said Wolkins. “We are all the same on two blades. And it’s great to watch people help each other. It’s a good wholesome experience and its heartwarming to watch.”

Daveion Beach is the Youth Program Coordinator for the city.

“Having spaces like this in the city brings the community together,” said Beach.

Beach says he just learned how to skate a few weeks ago and he quickly took to it.

“It is so challenging, but I love it,” said Beach. “It’s a new activity I’m learning. It’s hard, but fun. It’s very calming. It’s a great escape if you’re stressed mentally. Being out in nature is good for our physical and mental health as well. It’s a peaceful feeling to be on the ice.”

There’s even a special community event at the rink this Saturday.

“Our parks have so many benefits to our community. We’re excited for Saturday. We invite you to come out, wear red,” said Jacqueline Johnson who is with Parks and Youth Services for the city. “We’ll have the rink all decked out. It’s for couples, singles, young and old. We want to be that inclusive environment where we help create good health habits, happiness and memories. That is what our city parks are for.”

And just like in life, you may have to take a few spills, before you’re able to glide across the rink.

“If you fall, get up, dust yourself off and start over,” said Wolkins.

The Valentine’s-themed public skate night is called the City Parks Love You event. It runs from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is $4, $2 for seniors and kids under three are free. If you don’t have your own skates, rentals are $2.

New chillers were put in under the ice this fall to help keep the ice frozen during higher temperatures. So even with the warmer weather we’re expecting, good skating conditions are expected at the rink Saturday.

On a side note, the plan is to transform the rink into a roller skating rink this summer.

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