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New (Free!) Ice-Skating Rink at Bushnell Park in Hartford

Jon Campbell

December 29, 2010

What’s awaiting you at Bushnell Park? Four miles of refrigerated brine, and ice skate rentals that don’t cost a damn thing.

The newest offering from the city of Hartford — part park promotion and part just-because-it’s-awesome — is a completely free ice skating rink in the city’s central public park. The idea sprung from the mind of Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra partly as a way to get city residents to use the city’s parks year-round, and to provide some low-cost fun along the way.

With help from a former Hartford Whaler and some local corporate sponsors, the idea took shape. Former NHL player Bob Crawford and his company installed the rink, which sits atop a complex of refrigerated piping that helps keep the ice as icy as possible. Crawford said the rink should stay frozen in temperatures as high as 60 degrees. Crawford, who owns five commercial rinks in the state, donated his work crews for the effort. He also hauled in 300 pairs of skates that are available, free of charge, to anyone who’s interested.

Crawford deflected a reporter’s attempts to give him credit.

“I’ve been very pleased at the number of people that have selflessly given their time for this project,” Crawford says. “People in the Parks and Rec Department, anybody that had anything to do with the city, when it was quitting time, they stayed.”

The rink was being well used when the Advocate visited on Thursday afternoon. Chris Burke, a 16-year-old student at High School Inc., said he and his class were taking a field trip for their gym class. He and a few friends posed for a reporter while they laced up.

Katie Snyder and Mike Dolgert, newly engaged, were also out on the ice on Thursday. Asked why they came, Snyder took an opportunity, on the record, to score points with the fiancé.

“I’ve never had a nice guy take me out skating before,” says Snyder.

Segarra’s Director of Communications, Sarah Barr, said the rink had been a hit from day one.

“[Users have] run the gamut. People are learning to skate, they’re lacing up. … And we’ve had two [marriage] proposals,” said Barr. Both brides said yes, she added.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Advocate.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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