SOUTH ABINGTON TWP. — Sparks flew as Ken Lee guided the business end of an ice skate across a whirring stone wheel set up under a pavilion at Hillside Park.
After he stopped his sharpener and took another stone over the sides of the blade by hand, he inspected his work.
“It’s good enough for pond hockey,” he said, bundled up against the frigid air.
Skating at the park’s pond opened about two weeks ago, after the ice reached four inches thick, the minimum needed to allow skaters to safely take the ice there. On a recent afternoon, Lee and Chris Kane, both volunteers at the park, worked to resurface the ice after the mid-January snow and rain and to sharpen a fresh batch of donated skates.
For Kane and Lee, keeping the ice skatable is a way to maintain and share a love of ice sports. Lee played hockey for decades, starting as a child on frozen ponds around Tunkhannock. Later, he maintained an outdoor rink there. After moving to Clarks Summit, he got involved at the pond. Park officials put him in touch with Kane.
“Everyone who helps out here, we’re just a group of pond hockey enthusiasts,” Kane said.
Ice skating at the park, 1188 Winola Road, is possible because of the efforts of volunteers like Kane and Lee and donations. For instance, another volunteer came out and removed the snow from the ice the day before Kane and Lee smoothed portions of its surface for skating.
The sharpener Lee uses was donated by a Dallas man who used to sharpen skates there. On weekends, volunteers also staff the skate shed, a building near the pond where guests can take out skates to use for free.
People can also borrow sticks, pucks and goals from the shed. Games of “shinny,” pick-up hockey contests, are common, Kane said.
However, one does not have to be a skilled skater to enjoy a day on the ice. Young children who don’t yet know how to skate often take to the pond wearing only boots, Kane said.
“It’s a good way for everyone to get out and get some fresh air in the winter time,” Kane said.
Anyone who wants to volunteer at the skate shed, work to resurface ice or shovel snow from the frozen pond or has a pair of skates they’d like to donate can do so by messaging the Hillside Park Facebook page. People can also go there to check daily ice conditions.
The skate shed is usually open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for visitors to borrow skates and gear, though people with their own skates and equipment can come throughout the week.
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