With subzero temps, Minnesotans return to their outdoor rink roots

Fact: There is nothing better in a Minnesota winter than an outdoor ice rink.

Lewiston, Minn., population 1,564, finally has one, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports. The city had one 20 years ago but perhaps driving 17 miles to an ice rink in Winona seemed like a better idea at the time.

But there’s something to be said for skating in the wind. The ice is better outside in the cold and when you’re skating outdoors, it feels like you’re declaring victory over winter.

A local hardware store donated the materials. And a friend of an organizer was driving through town with a bulldozer one day when he was convinced to stop.

And the donations kept coming. Local businesses and residents donated lights for the rinks, wood to build a warming house, doors and patio heaters for the warming house and ice skates. With so much help for the effort, it was decided to build not just one ice rink, but two.

Hennessy, his wife and five children built the rinks and warming house. The Lewiston Volunteer Fire Department agreed to flood the rinks with 15,000 gallons of water. On Dec. 16, the community celebrated the ice rinks’ grand opening.

Among those turning out for the grand opening was Eric Shurson. The hockey dad and coach serves on the Lewiston Trails Committee and was one of the members talking about bringing back an ice rink. He said he is thrilled the city once again has an outdoor rink.

“It’s beautiful. Personally, I think it’s the nicest outdoor rink in southern Minnesota,” Shurson said.

These are good times for outdoor rinks. The cold wave in Minnesota has allowed Mankato and North Mankato to open two rinks, the Mankato Free Press reports. Two more will open by the end of the week.

The only problem is it’s hard to have a pick-up hockey game when you’re the only one who shows up.

“I wasn’t expecting this,” Carter Hemstock, a Gustavus Adolphus student from Spring Lake Park, told the Free Press. “It’s just tough because it’s hard to find other people out here, especially when it’s so cold. The wind’s not so nice, but it’s not too bad if you keep moving.”

That’s known as “heaven” to old-school skaters like the kids on the University of Minnesota Duluth hockey team, which held practice outdoors at the Piedmont rinks in Duluth.

“It brought back a lot of memories,” co-captain Parker Mackay said. “You grow up every winter skating on the outdoor rink and it’s always fun to come out here and get back to your roots.”