Outdoor Skating

See the video on WCAX!

ST. JOHNSBURY, Vt. –  That’s Olivia Emerson whipping around the ice skating rink.

“I’ve been skating since I was three,” she says.

Like a lot of kids, she learned to skate right here at the outdoor rink on Main Street in St. Johnsbury.

“This is a very old-school way of doing it where … we wait for the first snow. We back drag it with a town plow truck and then just hammer it with water and then all of a sudden your park is a skating rink,” says director of recreation Joe Fox.

Like some things, old-school just works, which is why you’ll still find kids using milk crates to get comfortable on the ice!

“I like it a lot because I’m not very competitive in skate, well, not in anything, but I’m not a very good skater, so I can practice!” says 8-year-old Phyler Holt.

Dads like Jamie Murphy have a the perfect perch to cheer on their kids. His boys, Harry and Howie, love coming over here to play hockey with their friends Ryder, Jacob, Finney and Ollie!

This location has been a destination for recreation for a long time. Historians around here say, in 1863 the man who owned that house deeded this land to the town of St. Johnsbury. Now, he had one requirement. That nothing could be built here. He wanted a straight view of Summer Street School from Main Street. Flash forward to 1917. That is the first time that the town newspaper referenced this spot as being used for ice skating. So for a hundred years now, families have been enjoying it.

“St. Johnsbury has two rinks in town. We’re very fortunate. We have the rink here at the corner of Main and Winter Street and then we have a rink at the corner of Concord Avenue and Portland Street,” Fox says.

You might call Joe Fox the “ice man”. He’s the one who takes care of the rink on Summer Street. The former town manager maintains the ice at the Portland Street rink,  where there’s a new warming hut too!

“It’s a thrill for me every year. I know I can speak for Mike Welch. We both look forward to doing this every year. We sort of watch those five day forecasts and were like, all right, this is the week, we can finally get the ice out there and the community starts getting really excited about it,” he says.

They try to have the rinks ready to go for New Years Eve and stay open through February break. The lights are on a timer, so you can skate until 10 p.m. each night.

Molly Gleason is mom to Amelia and Ethan. They normally come to this park for the swings and climbing gear!

“It was warm today and we thought we’d come to the playground and run around and get some energy out,” she says.

After seeing the rink, she’s excited to have another outdoor activity for her family!

“I actually didn’t even know the ice was here in St. J. So, I think for us to know that this is here, well come, it’s free, it’s accessible for everybody. I think that’s wonderful,” she says.

A destination that’s a century old and still a favorite during the winter!