Whether it's snowing outside or the sun is shining bright, the Port Washington Skating Center has been serving the community for over 25 years, since Bryan Trottier, a retired Canadian-American professional hockey player, opened its doors in the 1980s.
In 1993, the skating center was sold to Fred Nielsen who began to oversee all rink operations for recreational use. While Nielsen remains the head coordinator for the recreational and travel hockey teams, it is Nielsen's son, Kristian Nielsen, who has been the program director since 2005.
The skating center has upwards of 30 instructors that coach ice hockey and hold private and full-class skating lessons. It also serves as the home to the championship-winning Long Island Edge hockey teams (ages 7-17) and the Long Island Hurricanes hockey club for women.
The Long Island Edge hockey program is part of the Long Island Amateur Hockey League, an organization consisting of 12 traveling teams from the Long Island, New York City, and the southern parts of the Westchester area. Its 2008-09 Peewee team that won the New York State title and attended the National Championships last year.
"That was a very big deal for us," Kristian Nielsen said.
When the skating center isn't conducting skating classes or hockey training programs, its ice is open to the public seven days a week.
First-time guest, Kathy Gurrieri of Glen Head, said she took the day off to spend it skating with her two adult children.
"This is really my birthday gift to myself," Gurrieri said. "We used to skate on occasion years ago, so it was a nice thing to do with my kids."
Aside from hosting birthday parties and renting equipment and ice time to the general public, the rink also has a discounted skating program with the Port Washington Police Athletic League. Veteran figure skating coach, Farrah Gholamazad, explained how important the skating center is to her and the community.
"I've been here for three years and it's a great rink with a family-like atmosphere," Gholamazad said. "The kids seem to have so much fun here skating on the ice. Even the adults find it to be good exercise but it's really a nice place to relax and have fun."
-New Year's Eve Afternoon session – Thursday, Dec. 31 from 1 – 5 p.m.
-Islanders I.C.E Tour – Special guests include Sparky and the Islanders Ice Girls. Those who wear their New York Islanders Jersey receive a special gift. – Sunday, Jan. 3 from 1 – 4 p.m.