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JCC opens outdoor ice rink

The new ice skating rink behind the Jewish Community Center had a ribbon cutting Monday. A grand opening for the public is set for 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

YOUNGSTOWN — A synthetic ice rink and curling lane are among the attractions featured at the Jewish Community Center’s new outdoor winter campus, opened Monday.

Many children and some adults took to the ice following a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Laura Weymer, director of health and wellness at the Jewish Community Center, said plans for the project started two years ago.

“One of the employees had the idea of having an ice rink on the outdoor campus. At first we all laughed, then we decided to start working on it since it sounded like something that would be wonderful for our community. People could come here and enjoy this. We are a firm believer, if you build it, they will come,” Weymer said.

The rink will provide a place for skating throughout the winter season, regardless of weather.

She said the JCC was able to secure $100,000 in grants from major sponsors Western Reserve Health Foundation, the Youngstown Foundation, and the J. Ford Crandall Memorial Foundation

The $100,000 covered the cost of the rink, signs and a snack station, which has hot chocolate and hot dogs.

Weymer said curling lessons are set to start next month.

“We will have a curling expert here to teach people to curl. Curling is an Olympic sport and we will be able to have a lot of fun with this on a smaller scale. We can form a recreational league,” she said.

Lisa Long, financial resource development director for the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, said a soft opening was held late last month for JCC members with plans for a grand opening 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

The rink will be open Thursday to Sunday through March 28 and reservations can be made on the JCC website to limit people using the rink at one time. Skating is free, but skate rentals will have a fee. The rink also will be available to rent.

The “Glice rink” features synthetic ice that isn’t reliant on cold temperature. Weymer said the Glice comes from a company based out of Switzerland and is made of a polyethylene compound laminated onto both sides of plywood panels.

“People will be able to skate on it no matter what Mother Nature does,” Long said.

Weymer said the rink is movable so it can be placed anywhere on the campus property.

Enjoying the ice was Josephine Diroll, 8, of Youngstown.

“It was fun but a little scary. It was my first time ice skating. I usually roller skate. They are about the same,” Diroll said.

Mara Vargo, 12, of Youngstown, said, “It is really fun that they put in this outdoor ice rink. I have never been on an outdoor rink before. The Glice is a little more tricky than the real ice but once you get the hang of it, it is fun.”

“It is amazing. We are just excited to have people able to be here skating out on the ice enjoying time with their families. With our Logan campus where there is a pool, pickleball courts and play area, more and more families come out every summer. With the winter area we expect to see just as many families,” Weymer said,

Weymer said originally they were going to get things done sooner but with a spike in coronavirus cases in both Mahoning and Trumbull counties last fall it was decided to wait before opening.

“We have protocols in place for safety,” Weymer said.

She said plans are to offer ice skating lessons next year as well as skating parties.

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