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Backyard rinks = backyard fun

The Hill sisters Taylor (left) Alyss(right) are reasons Steve Hill keeps putting up ice rink his North Aurorbackyard.

The Hill sisters, Taylor (left) and Alyssa (right) are the reasons Steve Hill keeps putting up the ice rink in his North Aurora backyard.

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Did you know?

If you don’t want a backyard rink, the Fox Valley Park District maintains two outdoor skating areas and keeps the surfaces clear of snow. Skating is only permitted when ice thickness is 6 inches or greater. A green flag signals safe conditions permissible for skating; a red flag indicates unsafe conditions.

Wheatlands Park pond — Barrington and Spinnaker drives in Montgomery.

Splash Country Water Park pond — 195 S. Barnes Road, next to the water park, and across the street from Blackberry Farm.

Source: www.foxvalley
parkdistrict.org

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Updated: January 28, 2013 3:08PM



Baby, it’s cold outside, and that’s good news for John Puscheck, who has been patiently waiting for Mother Nature’s cooperation.

“We have a rink in our backyard and were able to skate for the first time on New Year’s Day,” said Puscheck, of Naperville. “We have a lot of fun together as a family — without distractions — and love to see the kids have their friends over to skate.”

Puscheck and his wife, Julie, skate, as do their children Lauren, 12, and Camden, 10. The family’s winter playground measures 48-feet by 32-feet and takes a day to set up and a day to fill with water.

“I don’t put the tarp down and fill the rink until it looks like the weather will be right to begin to freeze the ice,” Puscheck said. “The only regular maintenance is to put water on the ice after use to get a new, clean sheet, but with the way the weather has been, the sun has been doing that for me.”

He said he relied on a friend who had installed a backyard rink before for his expertise on where to buy materials and how to install. Initial expenses for boards and braces ran about $500, and a replacement liner costs about $130 annually.

In his second year as backyard rink owner, operator and maintenance guy, the Naperville dad said it’s worth the effort.

“It’ a novelty that most kids don’t have, so it’s really great to see them play and have fun on our rink,” said Puscheck, who grew up skating and still plays in an adult hockey league. “It’s creating memories that I know we will talk about for years and years.”

North Aurora resident Steve Hill shared the sentiment.

Skating since he was 6, Hill is now joined by his wife, Michelle, and daughters Taylor, 12, and Alyssa, 9, in their backyard rink.

“(We do it) for the kids,” said the dad, who put up a rink for the third consecutive year. “Even if we only get to skate a few times, I know how much they enjoy it. Some of their friends are now getting skates, so they can use the rink also. Every year, we have more and more friends and families over to skate and hang out by the fire pit.”

And while the weather sometimes proves to be challenging, Hill isn’t discouraged.

“The first year we started skating in December and skated many times, (but) last year, we only got to skate three times,” Hill said. “(This year,) we skated on Jan. 15 for the first time, and have skated every day since.”

Both homeowners agree, ice is nice when it’s in your own backyard.

And they’re not alone.

For more than 20 years, NiceRink creator Jim Stoller has made a living out of helping homeowners become rink owners. The Wisconsin-based company is a leader in the backyard rink industry, offering customers anything and everything they need to lace up without leaving home.

Stoller said he grew up in Wisconsin playing hockey on local ponds and lakes with his brothers. But it was years later, after his son was born, that he decided to bring the fun home.

“I built a frame in the backyard, laid the white plastic in there, and the next day, we were skating,” Stoller said. “That is where it really started. It came from my passion for hockey and skating, and wanting to have something for my son. I used to sit out there for hours tossing him pucks.”

Since then, NiceRink.com has delivered “millions of frozen memories” to kids of all ages. From a “rink in a box” to one that is custom designed to a homeowner’s specifications, Stoller’s team can help even a “rink rookie” get started.

And his customers tell him it’s worth it.

“When you are out in your backyard on a sheet of ice, looking up at the stars, it’s a magical thing,” said Stoller, NiceRink’s president. “You don’t have to go anywhere and you’re having a ball.”

Did you know?

Aurora

If you don’t want a backyard rink, the Fox Valley Park District maintains two outdoor skating areas and keeps the surfaces clear of snow. Skating is only permitted when ice thickness is 6 inches or greater. A green flag signals safe conditions permissible for skating; a red flag indicates unsafe conditions.

Wheatlands Park pond — Barrington and Spinnaker drives in Montgomery.

Splash Country Water Park pond — 195 S. Barnes Road, next to the water park, and across the street from Blackberry Farm.

Source: www.foxvalley
parkdistrict.org

Naperville

If you don’t want to install your own rink, the Naperville Park District maintains outdoor skating rinks at four locations.

The following ice rinks are lighted and open until 10 p.m. (weather permitting):

Centennial Park, 500 W. Jackson Ave.

Nike Sports Complex, 288 W. Diehl Road

Commissioners Park, 3704 111th St.

The fourth rink, at Gartner Park, 524 Gartner Road, is not lighted and closes at dusk.

On the web

To learn more about NiceRink, visit www.NiceRink.com



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