Ice rink busily glides through winter of skaters' discontent
The forecast for the latter half of the February school vacation week called for temperatures in the mid- to high-50s, a climatological quirk that had kids enjoying outdoor activities appropriate for spring but missing those wintertime pursuits that rely on snow and ice.
But at least one spot in town has been cashing in on the unseasonably mild weather.
The Fairfield Ice Academy in the Sportsplex off Mill Plain Road was jam-packed Wednesday morning, with more than 100 youngsters visiting each day of the vacation, according to Assistant Manager Laura Brennan.
"Traffic has been on par with last year, if not better," said Tamara Guarino, the academy's managing director. "Because the weather hasn't been bad, people are able to make it here more easily, so our attendance has been more consistent. People are not staying indoors and are being active. And technically, it's still winter and skating is a winter sport."
Guarino added, however, that the facility is a popular draw at any time. "Compared with other rinks, we're small and personable," she said. "The ratio of students to instructors is much smaller than other area rinks. Its downtown location is also convenient for local families. And skating is a great sport whether there's snow on the ground or not."
Kurt Anderson, a Fairfield parent whose son is in the academy's Mite Travel Hockey program, said this winter has certainly been different from last year. "Normally, this time of year, our family would be at ski areas like (Mount) Southington or Mohawk (Mountain), or sledding," he said.
"But due to the lack of snow and ice, we're riding bikes and playing on the swingset. The only winter sports we've really been able to do are skating and hockey here at the academy, or traveling north for skiing on man-made snow. Last winter, we had snow measurable in feet and we were stuck in the house. This year, the daffodils are already pushing up in the yard."
Another parent of a Mite hockey player, Matt Loguercio of Easton, agreed. "This time last year, we were at Jiminy Peak and my son was in ski school," he said. "This year, we've been playing soccer on the front lawn, whereas last year we were trying to find the front yard. There are no restrictions on activities this year. Of course, we're doing more warm weather activities, but want to keep up my son's skating skills. The academy is a great alternative to the typical vacation camp."
Anderson said last year "kids didn't need an outlet because they were out of school so much. They really needed the break from school this year."
Fairfield resident Finula Milici, 12, skating with her sister Bella and friend Maddie, was happy to skate at the rink. "I really miss the snow," she said. "We would be skiing or playing in the snow. It's nice to be able to come to the academy to do a winter sport."