WESTLAKE, Ohio — This cold snap is good news for many Northeast Ohio residents who have a winter hobby.
For those who enjoy ice skating, there are plenty of spots to lace ‘em up, but one spot in Westlake has been attracting skaters for years.
“It takes about three days of below-freezing temperatures for this to freeze so it’s firm enough for the kids to skate on,” said Allison Kaufman, of Westlake “So we get so excited watching that 10-day forecast and seeing all the temperatures below freezing.”
There’s a spot off Bradley Road, marked only by a wooden bench. But when temperatures plummet, you’ll find scores of skaters on the flooded-out field perfecting their craft.
“It’s fun. It’s cold. I just like being here and playing,” said 9-year-old Patrick Kaufman. “You’re just not in an enclosed space. It’s all the cool stuff. It’s just such a fun experience.”
Kaufman was just one of several enjoying a rare day off from school due to the weather. The family decided to spend a couple of hours at the makeshift rink.
“We came out here before 10 a.m. and they couldn’t be more excited,” said Patrick’s mother, Allison. “When the boys are out here with their teammates, I just think to myself that these are the things that they’ll really remember.”
The frozen field is just a few inches thick and is where countless kids have learned to skate over the decades.
“The size is great. I feel more comfortable that they’re safe. I also like knowing that it’s shallow in case there is a crack,” Allison said.
Nine-year-old Tommy Hutchinson was one of many on the ice Thursday afternoon. He’s been skating for about five years and Tommy and his friends take every opportunity they get to tie on their skates and get some stickhandling work in.
“At Martin Luther King Day my school had an open skate and I skated, and I liked it,” Hutchinson said. “It’s nice because I get to skate out here with all my friends.”
Not to be outdone by his sister, seven-year-old Teagan Hutchinson was also getting some laps in around the ice. Despite deciding that the sport of hockey wasn’t for her, she still enjoys getting out on the ice.
“It’s cool because you get to meet new friends and stuff,” she said.
There’s something special about skating outdoors that attracts skaters from all over. Many times, ponds like the one on Bradley Road are where people get their start.
“All of the ages play so well,” said Allison Kaufman. “Sometimes there will even be high school players out here and it really doesn’t matter. As long as you have skates and a stick you fit right in.”
With the forecast to be cold again for the weekend, you can be sure the rink at Bradley Road will be a hot spot no matter how chilly it gets.
“My favorite part is probably my friends coming out and playing,” said Patrick Kaufman. “That’s the best part about it. Just being together.”
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