Camp Optimist Join the Gallery in the Grove for an Online Summer Art Camp! Details Here.
(Updated: July 28)

Optimist Club sets up community ice rink


Originally from:


Not everyone was happy to see the temperature climb Friday into thaw territory.

Days earlier, Aaron Robb and Ben Turner, two new members of the Bright’s Grove Optimist Club, had put down a liner in a 44-foot by 90-foot frame they built for an outdoor community skating ice behind the Lakeshore Community Church.

After the liner was in, they flooded it with water.

“It took a whole water truck and 18 hours with two hoses to fill it,” Robb said.

They were waiting for the ice to set so the rink could open to residents of Bright’s Grove when the temperature jumped.

“The weather yesterday didn’t help it at all,” Robb said Saturday.

But, the temperature was back down below O C, and club members planned to flood the rink Saturday evening, with the aim of having it ready to open to the community Sunday.

Robb said the service club had been wanting to take on building a community rink as a project for a few years, so he and Turner volunteered.

They looked at a couple parks in the area, and then the church on Old Lakeshore Road offered a spot behind its building.

Club members finished work on the rink a week ago, and the ice was setting up, until Friday’s thaw set things back.

“We’re just waiting for it to fully freeze, and give us some good weather,” Robb said.

The coming week was looking promising, with Environment Canada calling for temperatures below freezing to hold through at least Friday.

The rink fits with the service club’s other projects for children and families, including sponsoring Canada Day celebrations in Bright’s Grove, an Easter Egg Hunt and Breakfast with Santa, according to Robb.

It’s believed to be the first public outdoor rink at Bright’s Grove in recent times.

“Some of the older guys said there used to be one, years and years ago at Kenwick Park, but nothing in recent memory,” Robb said.

He moved to Bright’s Grove four years ago, but grew up in St. Thomas where a neighbour regularly set up an outdoor rink.

“I grew up stealing their ice,” he said.

Skating outside on a rink, or frozen pond, feels different than in an arena, Robb said.

“You’re out in the open, in the sun and the wind and snow.”

There’s something nostalgic, and very Canadian, about skating outside, he added.

Along with the church, other groups and businesses in the community came on board to help with the rink project.

“It’s just something a few of us here wanted to do,” Robb said.

Club members have set up a sign with a few rules and safety guidelines, along with suggested user times of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Club members said they’re hopeful, depending on the weather, kids and families in Bright’s Grove will be able to enjoy the rink through the winter.

[email protected]