ELLSWORTH, Maine — “Isn’t this amazing?” exclaimed Becky Leamon as she glided around the new ice rink behind the Moore School off State Street.
Leamon, a teacher from Ellsworth, and her husband, Andy Stephenson, also a teacher, were taking advantage of Monday’s holiday and had walked from their nearby home to try out the rink, which opened earlier this month.
“It feels just like ‘A Wonderful Life,’” Leamon said, referring to the classic Jimmy Stewart holiday movie. “It’s great to be able to get out and skate. This is just another reason we love living in Ellsworth.”
The two were among the dozen or so people, young and older, who braved the cold on Monday to get out on the ice. Some were obviously comfortable on the ice, while novices spent time skating on their ankles or sitting on the ice.
All, whatever their position, seemed to be having a good time.
“It’s fun,” Stephenson said. “And it’s right here in the city. It’s fun to watch everybody out here skating. This really is an asset to the city.”
“I like it,” said 8-year-old Skye Howard of Gouldsboro, who, with her twin sister, Blue, rarely stopped her circuit of the rink.
“It’s fun,” her sister, Blue, agreed.
“We were coming into town to run some errands, and we knew the rink was here,” their dad, Bentley Howard, said while taking a break from keeping up with his daughters on the ice.
The rink is the handiwork of the city’s recreation committee, assisted by volunteers, according to Jeff Wright, the committee member who spearheaded the ice rink project.
Wright began planning after he got initial support from the recreation committee and from City Manager Michelle Beal. Volunteers and local businesses helped keep the costs down, Wright said.
EBS Building Supplies provided materials for the rink’s sideboards, and R.F. Jordan and Sons Construction leveled the field so it was ready for crews to build the rink. Wallace Tent and Party Rentals put up a small tent for shelter for the crew during the process, he said.
Others donated time and materials, and a crew from the Ellsworth Fire Department flooded the rink before the new year. The weather turned warm during the holiday weekend, so the opening was delayed until it cooled off again.
“I think it’s great,” said Erin Hoschouer of Ellsworth, who, with her spouse and three children, was back at the rink on Monday after an initial outing over the weekend.
“We’re able to come down here with the kids and spend the day, and it doesn’t cost anything,” Hoschouer said. “I think it’s a really good thing they’ve done.”
According to Wright, the rink is open during daylight hours, but those hours could be extended once lights are installed.
With volunteer help and donations, Wright said, the total cost to the city was about $3,400. With the rink expected to last for a decade, that amounts to a cost of about $300 a year.
The recreation committee keeps an eye on the rink and maintains it with the help of volunteers. More volunteers are needed, Wright said, to help with tasks such as watering the rink to keep the surface smooth and clearing snow off the surface.