Snowshoes and Hockey Sticks
Where is the nation’s largest outdoor ice rink? Right here in one of our own state parks! For the past few years, the Friends of Chenango Valley State Park has hosted an annual Pond Hockey Weekend and festival, a series of weekends in January that bring hundreds of children and adults to this 1,100 acre park in central New York just north of Binghamton. The key attraction is the impressive 110’ x 200’ refrigerated ice rink that is constructed each year to provide winter activities to thousands of users and not be susceptible to above-freezing temperatures.
This year the Friends will host four winter-friendly events filling the January weekends with lively children and adults. A pond hockey weekend, two adult tournaments, and a pond festival will attract hundreds of bundled up winter weather lovers. Like at any outdoor winter event, many activities will be weather dependent, but organizers prepare for anything that Mother Nature will blow at them by offering an abundance of entertainment that is resilient to the elements of the day. In addition to on-ice fun, participants can create bird wreaths, snow measuring sticks, participate in short hikes, and many other activities.
Off the ice, the snowshoeing activities are the most popular…so much so that the Friends of Chenango took advantage or our Park & Trail Partnership Program to fund over a dozen sets of Redfeather snowshoes. During a recent phone conversation with board president, Linda Hall, she shared how well-received the snowshoes have been. “We’ve had 3- and 5-year olds trying out the children’s snowshoes and recently had a little girl from Texas trying them out for the first time in her life.” According to Hall, this year has been a challenge due to the lack snow in the area, as the second weekend of January saw temperatures in the 50's.
Despite the trails being more suitable for winter hikes, these weekends will bring hundreds of visitors through the doors of the park who very well may have resorted to keeping comfy at home if it wasn’t for an ambitious group like Chenango's Friends group to create an enticing event.