The sub-freezing temperatures of the last two weeks have brought with them plenty of grumbling, but also a rare opportunity for outdoor fun.
On Sunday afternoon, about a dozen ice skaters made their way down Fenimore Woods in Radnor Township, Delaware County, where the pond has frozen over and six areas have been cleared for ice skating.
A few first timers, including Dennis Faith, came to see what everyone in town has been talking about since the freeze set in.
“You know, we’ve been here a couple of years,” Faith said. “We moved from Minnesota where this is kind of the norm from Thanksgiving until Easter.” When he saw a few rinks had been shoveled, he decided to give it a try.
As recent winter temperatures have been a bit erratic, local pond hockey lovers never quite know when they’re going to get the right conditions to get out on the ice.
Caroline Davis, whose family used to live in Canada and who plays hockey at Rochester Institute of Technology, took advantage.
“I’m just home right now for break,” Davis said, “so this was the only time I could come out and play pond hockey. It’s a lot of fun, though.”
So how do you know when the ice is thick enough to skate? Caroline’s brothers, twins Stewart and Clark Davis, explained.
“Well, first off, you usually put a step on the ice first to make sure it’s not cracking underneath,” said Stewart.
“Since this has been going on for numerous amounts of years, when it hits a certain temperature and stays there for a little bit, people will know, hey, the pond might be good enough to skate on,” added Clark.
Bill Farrell, who grew up in Villanova, lets others do the work of testing the ice.
“I pull up in the parking lot,” he said. “If there’s a bunch of people on it, it’s solid enough.”
Farrell has been coming here for nearly five decades and most winters there’s at least one cold snap that provides enough ice for pond hockey, he said. But one year, a friend was a bit too eager.
“The guy went in, but this is solid here,” he said, tapping the ice with a hockey stick. “You know, if you go all the way to the far end there it might get a little thin.”
Nearby, Ron Broder brought his son Mackey out for the experience.
“I’ve lived here for about 15 years and always knew this existed, but there was never enough of a cold snap that it even occurred to me to check it out, and I started hearing the buzz around town, and it’s fantastic,” Broder said.
And what was Mackey’s assessment of his first time skating on a pond?
“It’s cool,” he said.