Ice Skating in Washington
The Washington area offers a nice selection of indoor and outdoor ice skating rinks for the novice skater to the serious hockey player. It's fortunate that we have the rinks since our recent mild winters have not given us much of an opportunity to take to our local ponds or rivers for skating pleasure.
Decades ago, when winters were colder and artificially chilled rinks were not around, the Reflecting Pool and Potomac River were the places to skate for Washingtonians.
Keep reading for more ice skating photos from the past, and a few of my own ice skating stories...
As a kid, I learned how to ice skate on the Occoquan River and several local ponds. It seemed that most winters provided ample opportunities for skating. I remember on Christmas Day 1976 taking my cousins down to the river to skate while we waited for our Christmas dinner to be prepared. During the next winter, my friends and I worked feverishly during a snowstorm to shovel snow from an ice skating rink that we had created on a local pond. We would take turns shoveling, ice skating, then sledding, back-and-forth, for hours. The storm that buried Boston in 27 inches of snow, but gave the D.C. area only four to six inches of wind-blown snow.
My most vivid ice skating memory is from January 13, 1982. School was canceled that day due to a heavy snowstorm and I quickly made plans to meet a friend to skate on the river. All morning, we skated on a half-mile stretch of ice while the snow fell quite heavily. The snow was very powdery and our skates would cut through it with little resistance. It seemed like the perfect day until I arrived home that afternoon and my parents were watching the coverage of the Air Florida Crash. The jet had crashed into the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the ice-covered Potomac River below. We stayed glued to the TV set for hours, watching the rescue effort that ensued. That day will always be burned into my memory.
Our recent winters have not provided the same opportunities to ice skate as I experienced when I was a kid. Today, I have my own kids, but I know that I would never let them roam the rivers and ponds unsupervised, even if the winters were colder and the ice was thick. Times were different back then, both for winter weather and for parenting. For now, I'll just plan to frequent the local rinks, though I'm still hoping for one of those historic winters of the past!
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