A new ice rink — offering free skating — is expected to open by the end of the month in Aspinwall Riverfront Park.
The volunteers behind the creation of the park at the former Aspinwall Marina have been working to move ahead with the project.
“We asked our residents how important it was for them to have something at the park for them to enjoy by the end of the year, and, for some, it was very important,” said Susan Crookson, who is spearheading the park development.
Some local children have adopted the park as a cause and have raised money for it, said Ms. Crookson of Aspinwall. One 10-year-old girl, for example, asked those coming to her birthday party to donate money for the park rather than buy her gifts.
“That is one reason we want to move on the park — we want the kids who are helping to raise the money be able to enjoy it," Ms. Crookson said. "Putting up the skating rink now is one way they can."
Since skating is dependent on the weather, a sign on Freeport Road will indicate whether the rink is open. Skaters also can check Facebook. Rink hours will be 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Ginny Merchant of Fox Chapel donated $10,000 for the ice skating rink.
“I really believe in this park and what it will do for our community. I am so excited to see everyone pitch in and the overall feeling about the park,” she said.
Ms. Merchant raised four children in the area and believes the ice skating rink will be especially attractive for families with young children.
“This is something they can do for free and enjoy as a family,” she said.
The skating rink cost about $7,000. The additional money will be used for lights, security cameras and a portable toilet, Ms. Crookson said.
The site will include a fire pit and small concession stand, which will offer hot chocolate. Music will be played over loud speakers. Skaters should bring their own helmets and other safety gear.
“The Aspinwall Fire Department is helping us fill [the rink] and it needs to freeze in layers. The cold weather will help that process,” Ms. Crookson said.
In addition to raising money for the park, volunteers — including Aspinwall's new mayor, Joe Giuffre — are helping with other efforts, such as collecting donated skates.
“I’ve been calling local organizations and getting the word out so we can have skates for families who may not have them," he said. "We want everyone to be able to skate whether you have skates or not.”
Mr. Giuffre, a lifelong Aspinwall resident, said the park will be an important asset to the community.
“We hope that when people come out to skate that they may eat at a local restaurant or shop at a local business,” he said.
A retired Fox Chapel Area teacher, Mr. Giuffre looks forward to seeing former students at the skating rink.
“This gives me a chance to be around the kids again and hopefully see some of my students,” he said.
Although Ms. Merchant is a big supporter of the rink, don’t expect to see her on the ice.
“I’m so excited to see it and will certainly go check it out as soon as it is done, but I will not be skating,” she said.
Kathleen Ganster, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.