(La Porte, IN) - A fundraising drive has been launched in LaPorte to provide the community with an outdoor ice skating rink needing no cooperation whatsoever from Old Man Winter.
The rink doesn’t require water and below-freezing temperatures. Instead, the standard blades on skates glide on a hard synthetic surface used even by hockey players and figure skaters to practice during the off-season.
Bethany Lutheran Church is raising the money in hopes of having the iceless skating rink available for use by the public the day after Thanksgiving and throughout the winter.
“It really mimics real ice,” said Carrie Garwood, a member of the church at 102 G Street in LaPorte.
A 1,300 square foot rink will go up at LaPark, a playground across the street from the church, if $35,000 is raised by November 30.
The donations are needed to secure a $35,000 matching grant from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority to pay for the rink. A $50,000 matching grant from IHCDA was used to help pay for a splash pad used heavily last year at the park. The church owns the park but is open to anyone.
The skating surface made by Glice, Inc. out of Switzerland comes in panels weighing more than 50 pounds apiece. Garwood said the panels connect like pieces from a jigsaw puzzle.
She said the rink would be open at no charge from 10-6 PM every day throughout the winter. Skates included with the rink would also be provided at no cost, but users could bring their skates as well.
Garwood said there’s also talk of installing lights to allow donors giving the most money to use the rink privately from 6-8 PM.
Pastor Dennis Meyer said the idea came from renting an iceless rink last year for the inaugural Christkindlmarket in LaPorte. The market sponsored by the church was held at the park during Thanksgiving weekend. Meyer said that many people used the rink, which cost $12,000 to rent for three days.
“We thought, gee, for not that much more we can buy one so we decided let’s give it a go,” Meyer said.
The rink at LaPark would not be open after winter to free up space for the basketball court. Perhaps, moving the rink to one of the buildings at the La Porte County fairgrounds for use during the fair and throughout the summer is being considered.
"We got all kinds of ideas for it,” Meyer said.
The hope is to have the rink open for the 2nd annual market, which begins November 25. The market features live reindeer, craft and food vendors, German bands, a beer garden, and freshly cut Christmas trees to purchase.
The grant being pursued is part of a program targeting state money to things like building community.
“There’s nothing better in winter than getting out of your house, getting with friends and people that you know or don’t know to have a cup of hot chocolate and take a try at skating,” Meyer said.
Garwood said people could donate at bethanylaporte.com or mail or drop off a check at the church, which can be reached at (219) 362-3312.