Five or six years ago, Kris Thomas and Garrett Matt went to the City of Red Lodge with a proposal to build an ice skating rink. Their plan involved laying the rink on a previously existing rink in Lions Park, at a cost of approximately $10,000. The City of Red Lodge, together with Carbon County and Lions Park, donated the necessary funds. Kris and Garrett rallied a host of volunteers from the community, and set to work. They have also acquired a lovely warming hut, complete with cozy benches.
Generally, work begins on the Sunday following Halloween, when the ground is still somewhat warm. The space is cleaned up and cleared of debris, and the rink is set up. As soon as the air is cold enough, the liner is rolled out, and the rink is filled with water. Mother Nature turns the water to ice, and usually keeps it frozen until late February or early March.
Pond hockey pick-up games are held every Saturday at around 11 for anyone who wishes to play. Nate Davis says that the games are laid-back and fun; no slap shots or hard checks. All people, even those who just want to learn to skate are welcome. Nate says that he, himself, learned to ice skate just six years ago, because his children wanted to learn.
In addition to the adult games, there are numerous skating activities for kids. Al Bloomer, part of USA Hockey, has an incredible passion for teaching children to skate. There are also members of a figure skating group from Billings who come down on a weekly basis to give lessons. If your kids are interested, get in touch with the Boys and Girls Club of Carbon County for dates and details. Both the youth hockey and figure skating programs involve children of all ages.
The rink could not possibly be maintained without the hard work of our awesome local volunteers. Nate mentioned Tom and Melissa Rickbeil, Andy Simpson, Kris Thomas, Mike Keys, and Tom Kuntz, as well as numerous others, as being the life of the skating rink. Anyone interested in getting involved should contact Nate at 425-4644.