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Jonah Bowe: Skating rink, house should be open longer

I’m a pretty natural born Minnesotan. I complain about winter every year it comes around, but then I find myself complaining even louder when winter is starting to end.

     The main reason for that is because I love playing hockey so much, but this year it came down to more than a passion for the game. This year was different.

     I remember my first time throwing on a pair of blades. I wanted to be in wrestling, but my third grade class was going skating at the arena, and I didn’t want to be the kid who couldn’t skate, so I talked my dad into bringing me to the outdoor skating rink to teach me to skate.

     I think my dad was more convinced to make me love hockey than I had ever thought I would. I had never had any desire to play hockey; I just wanted to be able to skate so I didn’t embarrass myself in front of my peers.

     I went out on legendary Lincoln Rink for the first time, and that place became my second winter home every year after, until it closed and moved to Peoples Park three years ago.

     I spent so many days and nights on that rink it brings a tear to my eye to think about it. Not only that, but I made so many friends on those sheets of ice who I still see today, and whom I would have never even met without that place. I do have to say that I miss the old rink immensely.

     The new rink at Peoples Park is basically the same as the old Lincoln Rink but without the ever famous smell of the wood stove when you walk into the warming house. Now I’m not bashing the new rink, but I do have to say pond hockey has never been the same since Lincoln moved.

     We used to have huge pick-up games with enough people that we would have to sub players in and out. But nowadays a lousy three-on-three seems like a treat. I can’t tell you why, but the outcome just hasn’t been the same.

     Anyway, this year skating at the rink became something more to me than just a game and something I loved to do in my spare time. Coming out of Sharehouse, I knew I had to make some major changes in my life. The difference between myself and the average person who goes there is I didn’t have a choice on where I got to go following being there.

     Being as I’m still in high school, I had to return back here to Detroit Lakes, which meant returning to my old friends and old places, and for someone trying to stay clean that’s usually a bad sign.

     This year skating at the rink was beyond something I did for fun. It was my escape from negative influences and my stress reliever when I was having a bad day. I skated there every single day I was in Detroit Lakes this winter, and I leave a lot of the credit for my sobriety to that fact. It kept me away from trouble and taught me how to have real fun again.

     Unfortunately last Saturday I was given some frustrating news — the rink was closing Sunday. It still doesn’t make sense to me. The old rink used to stay open until the ice was completely unskatable, but this year the city decided to close it up when winter isn’t even over yet and there’s still a good couple of weeks of good skating weather.

     I wouldn’t be as frustrated if the city would at least have had the courtesy to clear the snow off the ice, because I’d skate without the warming house being open, but sadly that’s not the case.

     I would hope maybe they would re-evaluate this situation next year because I believe that the rink was a key factor in keeping me out of trouble and helping me to continue on the path of turning my life around, and I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way.

     Basically the next point in my life will be me figuring out what to do without the rink, but at least I can say I’m extremely grateful for the times I got to spend there this year. And I’m very confident in myself that I’ll be able to find something else that will have the positive influence the rink had on me this winter.

                Jonah Bowe is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.