The Journal Gazette
Sunday, January 02, 2022 1:00 am

Skaters take time to 'rink' in the new year

DAVE GONG | For The Journal Gazette

As the clock struck 1 on Saturday afternoon, a steady stream of skaters glided onto the ice under Headwaters Park’s east pavilion.

For some, skating on New Year’s Day is a yearly tradition.

That’s why Antwerp, Ohio, resident Paul Bauer and a family friend brought their sons Saturday. Bauer said he’s been skating on New Year’s Day since the rink opened 19 seasons ago. He also skates throughout the season.

“It’s fun watching them go through the motions and watching them fall and get back up,” he said of the boys. “Each year, they get better and better.”

The rest of Saturday afternoon, Bauer said, would be devoted to football. It was nice to spend the early part of the day with some outdoor activity, he added.

“Our wives have our daughters out for some manicures and pedicures while the guys are out doing some guy stuff,” he said. “After this, we’re all going to meet up at Coney Island.”

For others, it was their first time ever strapping on a pair of skates. Decatur resident Joey and his girlfriend, Sapphire, who declined to share their last names, were in Fort Wayne for a New Year’s Eve party on Friday night and stuck around Saturday morning to try out something new.

“I’m trying not to fall on my face,” Sapphire said, laughing.

For their first time out, the pair said they enjoyed the experience, though they said their favorite aspect of skating at Headwaters Park was probably the hot chocolate.

Although New Year’s Day at the rink isn’t an annual tradition, Columbia City resident Becky Thompson has always loved ice skating. She, her husband and their three teenage children decided to skate Saturday as a fun family outing to start the new year.

“We used to live in Fort Wayne, and we used to come down, but it’s just been a long time,” she said.

Thompson added she skated for years and even taught lessons for a while.

The 2021-22 winter skating season has been successful so far, despite ongoing pandemic-related concerns, Geoff Paddock, director of the Headwaters Park Alliance, said Saturday.

Since the rink opened in late November, the park has hosted more than 16,000 skaters, he said.

“We’re seeing some phenomenal numbers,” he said. “We’ve had record numbers on some days with over 900 skaters” during skating hours.

The park has experienced occasional staffing shortages, Paddock said, adding that so far there hasn’t been any trouble filling those gaps. He said rink staff has been diligent all season in monitoring safety and adhering to COVID-19 protocols.

Bauer is grateful that Headwaters Park has continued to open the rink despite the ongoing pandemic.

“These kids need something to do that’s not at home on lockdown,” he said. “I think it’s fantastic for kids and for families, and I hope they keep doing it.” 

At a glance

The skating rink remains open seven days a week through Feb. 27 but will begin a schedule of reduced hours starting Monday.

More information about rink hours can be found online at

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