BANGOR, Maine — Aly and Ethan Brayson of Bangor didn’t have to go far to test out the new ice skates they got for Christmas from their grandmother.
The sister and brother took in an early evening skate Tuesday with their mom, Rebecca Ryder, and Ryder’s aunt Marcia McGrath, at the new outdoor ice rink in Pickering Square.
The rink hasn’t had an official opening, but it already has been in use since last weekend. In fact, it was the second trip to the rink for 7-year-old Aly Brayson, a second-grader at Downeast School.
“It’s fun,” she said as 5-year-old Ethan wobbled next to his sister. “I just like to skate.”
That’s exactly what Sally Bilancia, the business and economic development officer for the city of Bangor and the city’s liaison to the Bangor Center Corp., who came up with the idea for the rink, wanted to hear. If skaters stay downtown for a bite to eat or to do some shopping, all the better.
“The [corporation’s] mission is to draw people into downtown,” she said. “This is just another free opportunity for people to come downtown, spend some time doing something recreational, and, hopefully, check out what downtown has to offer. There’s plenty for people to do.”
Ryder said she would consider making a day out of taking her kids skating.
“People are looking,” McGrath said.
It’s the first time in at least 10 years an ice rink has been in Pickering Square, according to the corporation.
The rink, which is about 40 feet by 80 feet, is free and open to the public. There are no set hours and the square is lit in the evenings for night skating.
There are, however, some specific rules. Skaters must use proper skating footwear and athletic activities, including but not limited to ice hockey, are prohibited. Users should be on the ice only when it is completely frozen. There are no skates for rent.
Most important is that the rink will not be supervised, so users will skate at their own risk.
Construction began about a week ago. Workers first had to put down crushed rock to create a level space in the square, which has a bowl shape to it. The space was framed with jersey barriers and a large tarp was put down on the ground. Water then was sprayed into the rink to create ice. Bilancia said the ice is 1-2 inches deep now, and could be a little thicker as winter goes on.
The rink is sponsored by Epic Sports and Lane Construction with help from the city’s Engineering, Public Works and Parks and Recreation departments. Parks and Recreation will maintain the rink throughout the season, which it does for rinks all over Bangor.
So far, there are rinks ready for skating in Broadway Park, the Davis Road neighborhood, Fairmount Park and Stillwater Park. Rinks in Bangor Gardens, Chapin Park and Little City are being worked on but are not ready for skating yet.