SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Although winter got off to a late start in Northeastern Pennsylvania, local ice skating enthusiasts can now celebrate the season’s official arrival.
Completely frozen over with six-plus inches of ice, Lake Eston Wilson at Hillside Park is now available to the public on weekend afternoons for figure skating and community ice hockey games, with free loans of skates and hockey equipment to those who don’t have their own. The Abington Area Joint Recreation Board (AAJRB), which owns and maintains the park, is seeing donations of ice skates in all sizes from children through adults. They can be dropped off at the park on weekends whenever the skate shed is open.
Clarks Summit resident Ken Lee donated between 20 and 30 pairs of skates, along with a large collection of hockey sticks, pucks and other equipment, which was previously used at the Riverside Park rink he started about 17 years ago in Tunkhnannock.
“I am a longtime adult hockey player dating back to the days when I would play pond hockey in my home town of Eagles Mere,” Lee said in an email. “I have always enjoyed the experience of getting out on the ice in the winter and was somewhat frustrated when I moved to Tunkhannock in 1987 to find that there was nowhere that folks could go to skate outdoors.”
He said building the rink in Tunkhannock took a lot of work and some money to maintain, but it was worth it. The rink is still in use today, and is run by Sam Elias, who took over when Lee moved about nine years ago.
“After I left Tunkhannock, I lived on Lake Sheridan for about five years, where I cleared a place in front of my house for folks on the lake to skate on,” Lee said in the email. “Although maintaining a lake rink was less work than constructing and maintaining a linered rink like we had in Tunkhannock, I did need to learn some unique things about how to get good ice on a lake which is subject to cracking and other natural phenomena. I am now a resident of Clarks Summit and would love to help maintain the pond at the Hillside Park for skating.”
Lee was joined out on the ice on Saturday, Jan. 23 by a handful of AAJRB and Abington Lions Club members, as well as other community volunteers, armed with snow shovels, to clear a large area of the lake. He said he plans to open up the skate shed every Saturday and Sunday afternoon for the rest of the winter, weather permitting. Volunteers are needed, both to help maintain the rink and man the skate shed.
Updates and cancellations will be posted on the Hillside Park Facebook page.
The Lions club also plans to hold a Valentine’s Day ice skating party and snow shoe dance Sunday evening, Feb. 14 at the park in conjunction with the Clarks Summit Festival of Ice.
Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.