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By Cheryl Fenton
| November 28, 2018
New England winters can be challenging. No matter how hearty you think you are, when the temperatures plummet, so does your will to brave the cold. Add in all the stresses that come with the holiday season, and you may not want to get out from under the covers.
But here’s an idea that might lure you off the couch: gliding across smooth ice on steel-bladed skates. It’s fun. It’s invigorating. It’s a bonding experience for couples, family, and friends. And, afterall, it’s a time-honored New England winter tradition.
“Ice skating is a truly transcendent experience,” says Adam Blake, a coach at The Skating Club of Boston and artistic director of its Theatre On Ice program. “For the adventurer, it offers the thrill of speed and the adrenaline rush of flying over frozen water. For lovebirds, it’s an excuse to hold hands. And for those with too much on their minds during the holiday season, it’s a way to take a deep breath and take flight.”
It’s this diverse appeal that keeps people returning to public rinks, season after season. Of the 10 million ice skating participants in the United States, 600,000 live in New England, according to a 2018 Single Sport Participation Report by the Sport & Fitness Industry Association.
Not only does ice skating offer physical benefits for all ages (hello, cardio and muscle strengthening), it also centers you and keeps you focused on the moment—something that can prove difficult during the holidays with so many distractions. Instead of mulling over your to-do list, you pay attention to your balance and the unfolding scenery. And add bonus points if you’re skating outside.
“There’s something about an outdoor ice skating rink that feels like a right of passage into winter and the holidays,” says Lynn resident Alicia Hyland, whose arena of choice for the past five winters is located at MarketStreet Lynnfield. “It’s so easy to get caught up in holiday preparations. Ice skating allows us to slow down and focus on spending time together.” Even though she doesn’t take to the ice herself, Hyland enjoys escaping into a steaming cup of coffee while watching her husband and daughter goofing around in the rink. “And, yes, sometimes I get a good laugh at their clumsiness,” she says.
From early November until February 24, 2019, the North Shore’s largest open-air shopping center opens up its classic 50×100 foot rink seven days a week on The Green, the centerpiece of the outdoor lifestyle center’s community.
Showcasing twinkling snowflake lights and views of Reedy Meadow, the state’s largest freshwater cattail marsh, this popular rink sponsored by Lahey Health keeps skaters of all ages on their blades with an inviting atmosphere, festive music, and special events coming up in the 2018-19 season, including Princess Skate, Superhero Skate, and more.
Here, you can pass an afternoon perfecting your double salchow (a 200-ton refrigeration unit ensures optimal ice temperature until 67 degrees, so it’s possible to channel your inner Michelle Kwan even when the warm sun is shining), and when you’re finished giving it all you’ve got on the ice, come in from the cold and nestle under the “warming tent,” a toasty enclosure from where you can still watch the action on the rink. And with J.P. Licks nearby, a warm cup of cocoa is easy to be had.
Or take your date to the rink on Friday or Saturday night and glide in tandem under the stars. When you’re ready to refuel, don’t tear off that wristband. Several MarketStreet restaurants—including Yard House, Wahlburgers, Temazcal Tequila Cantina, and California Pizza Kitchen—have signed on to keep the fun going outside the confines of the rink, offering discounts to wristband-wearing skaters.
Parents with kids in tow for a planned day of shopping at MarketStreet may unexpectedly find the little ones clamoring to join the on-ice action. Don’t let the wrong attire stop you from taking a whirl around the arena. Lululemon and Athleta can outfit you in comfy workout gear.
The winter fun is also accompanied by holiday celebrations at MarketStreet Lynnfield. As 2018 comes to a close, there’s no better way to “Groove into the New Year” than with the New Year’s Eve ‘60s themed Family Block Party. There will be a photo booth, a DJ spinning time-tested tunes, celebratory garb, games, contests, and, of course, spins around the ice skating rink.
Fresh air and sunshine, as well as the company of family and friends, is yours for the taking. Whether you go at it alone or with kids in tow, whether you’re wobbly or you can camel spin with the best of them, now is the perfect time to don the down jacket, strap on the skates, and hit the ice. Your couch will still be there when you get back.