HOOSICK FALLS, N.Y. -- Get your warmest winter-wear ready, the Reynolds-Gilchrest Skating Rink is open for the season.
Students kicked off their holiday break from Hoosick Falls Central School on Saturday by taking a turn on the ice during what is traditionally the busiest week at the rink.
Nick Jones, 19, and Caleb Jones, 13, joined Chris Morse, 13, for the first skate of the season.
"The ice is pretty good so far this year," said Nick, who sometimes organizes pick-up games of ice hockey with friends.
The covered rink is regulation hockey-size, yet being subject to changes in temperature means the ice is dependent on the weather for the length of its season.
"The last couple winters have been very warm," said Tom Margiotta, recreational supervisor for the town, noting that seasonally above-average temperatures mean difficulties keeping the ice at least two inches thick. The ideal air temperature for making ice is 15 to 20 degrees.
"We're almost a month ahead," said Margiotta, who is new to his position, and the area, after 35 years spent working for Bear Mountain national park. "This is another thing that will be great for the community," he said. "It keeps the kids off the streets and gives them something to do."
After much discussion, the town purchased new equipment for the rink in recent months, including 74 new pairs of both hockey and figure skates, new mats for the concreted outdoor area and extensive work done on its Zamboni -- the machine necessary to resurface and condition the ice.
"I'm very, very happy with the way that machine is running," said Margiotta, who counts 194 pairs of skates for rent in total.
Counting Hoosick as one of only several skating rinks in the area, including those in Troy, N.Y., North Adams, Mass. and Manchester, Margiotta has big plans for bringing a new generation of skaters to the location.
Skating lessons will once again be offered beginning next month, with registration set to take place Saturday, Jan. 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Lessons are taught by Sue Hyde, through a basic skills program sanctioned by the U.S. Figure Skating Association, and last year drew more than 60 participants. To join, or to become an instructor, call 518-686-3371.
This year, plans are also underway to redesign the website and to implement hockey clinics, for youth with basic skating skills already in place. According to Margiotta, the previous organized hockey program last met in 2005.
Anna Restino, 18, is in her second year of working at the rink, where she is one of four rink guards. "It's fun to see the little kids come in," she said. "If they need help putting their skates on or if they need help on the ice -- that's what I do."
Children under ten years of age must have an adult present while skating, and those who wish to take lessons should be at least five years old.
Extended holiday hours at the rink will run through Jan. 5, weather permitting. Beginning Jan. 6, hours will return to normal.
For more information, visit www.townofhoosick.org/skatingrink or call 518-686-4833 for updates.
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