January 11, 2016

Hit the ice for free in Homer

IcJoe McIntyre/staff photographer
Alexander Morrell, 1 1/2, of Homer, gets a close-up look at the ice on the Village Green ice rink in HomerSaturday.

Staff Reporter

HOMER — Three-year-old Kenzie Morrell, all bundled in a thick winter coat and snowpants, slid and glided on the ice at the Village Green with her father, Mark, showing that warm weather doesn’t mean an end to winter fun.
“We were running some errands and decided to come out here after,” Mark Morrell said Saturday afternoon. “We’ve been about four times this year and she (Kenzie) will keep talking about it until we actually go.”
Mark and Kenzie visited the skating rink Saturday with Mark’s wife, Ashley, and the couple’s son, Alexander, 1 1/2.
Skating at the Village Green initially drew Mark and Ashley Morrell to the village of Homer about two years ago.
The Morrells, both SUNY Cortland graduates, were looking for a place to live when they saw the lights illuminating the ice rink on the Green from nearby Interstate 81 and wanted to see what it was. Their curiosity brought them to the village, Mark Morrell said.
Although skating on thegreen helps make Homerunique, the ice does not see the number of skaters that the J.M. McDonald Center Sports Complex in Cortlandville typically sees.
“I have never actually skated on here,” said Cortlandvilleresident Maryellen Sgroi, 47, sitting Sunday afternoon on a bench at the Green. “My daughter likes to ice skate, but she will usually go to the J.M. Center. However, I like what this (ice on the Green) says about the town.”
Sgroi said she appreciates that there is an outdoor place for people to go to skate, and it’s a “nice little thing” the village does.
The ice rink has been atthe Green for at least 50 years, said villge Fire Chief Bob Johnson. The village has been adding and freezing water to the Green since the village removed a fountain.
“It’s for the community; it’s for kids and adults to enjoy and have as recreation,” said Village Clerk Lou Anne Randall. “It’s very family oriented.”
Randall said the praise forthe ice rink should be directed to Ralph Thorton, a villageresident and firefighter. Thorton assembles and maintains therink and spends “a lot of time and energy out there,” Randall said.
Johnson said Thorton has been the coordinator of the skating rink and believes he has been fulfilling the role for as long as the rink has been around.
For those looking enjoy indoor iceskating, the J.M. McDonald Center has free skate from12:30 to 1:30 p.m. daily.
Beginning Jan. 25, localscan participate in lunch skateat SUNY Cortland’s ParkCenter Alumni Arena. For those who are looking for outdoor skating on Zamboni-maintained ice, an ice rink at ClintonSquare in Syracuse sees about 40,000 skaters a year. There are fees for both.
“I don’t come here often so I don’t know how crowded it usually gets, but I imagine that the warmer temperatures are keeping people away,” Sgroi said. “Who wants to skate outsideif there’s no snow? That’s half the fun.”

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