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We Saved the Rink

We Saved the Rink

How have your feelings about home, neighborhood, and community been affected by the pandemic or any events that occurred over the past year?

This time last year we began our first real lockdown and everything closed, including Ice Station Valencia. A few weeks later, I got an email saying that the rink was closing permanently due to financial stress. That’s how I lost my most beloved job of teaching kids to Ice skate. While at home, I began to realize how much I took the community at the Ice rink for granted. I loved our skating director and the coaches and the friends I made there. I didn’t talk to many of the people there much outside of the rink so when the rink ceased to exist I no longer spoke to most of those people. One of the hardest things about the closure was no longer being able to teach the kids to skate. Working with kids and seeing them improve at skills and get more confident is a priceless experience to me. I only realized how much I enjoyed it when it was gone.

When the Saugus shooting happened over a year ago I remember hearing about it at the rink at the end of my morning shift. When I went to COC later it was empty because of how shaken our entire community was. The next week the rink hosted a few sessions for high school students to skate for free in order to show support for the community. We had a big poster with the hashtag #SaugusStrong and a heart.

On one of the last days the rink was open I really wanted to practice with my silk props. It was raining and covid was trending more and more. I had this gut feeling that I needed to skate a little extra that day and practice with my prop for my artistic program. I kept the footage and you can see me practice with my prop in front of the SaugusStrong banner.

Our little rink community started a petition soon after the rink closed to ask the city to keep it open. We got 25,000 signatures total. I really saw how much of a community we were when so many people showed up to our drive by support parade at the rink last summer. People came and decorated their cars and it was really impressive to see everyone coming together for the community that we valued so much.

Ice Station Valencia is now owned by the city thanks to our community coming together. I think this is a great addition to the city and community and I’m really excited for it to open in April.

Natanya Gunn

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