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by Sue Freeman

Ice skating was an integral part of my childhood. My street backed up to the Erie Canal, so in winter, my brothers and I toted our skates and snow shovels down the rocky embankment, into the lowered Erie Canal. We shoveled away the snow and spent many wonderful hours playing hockey and pretending to be Olympic ice skaters on the often bumpy surface. For a smoother glide, we piled into the car and went to the outdoor rink at Potter Memorial Park in Fairport.

Years later at Holiday Harbour in Canandaigua, I shoveled a large area of the boat canals and invited a gang of friends over for a rousing game of broom hockey, followed by hot chocolate in my parent’s house. These were examples of ice skating in its raw, natural form – with lots of shoveling involved, and a high tolerance for bumpy ice. A potential skating rink exists anywhere you have shallow water such as a pond or canal that freezes solidly. For instance, people like to skate on Long Pond in Greece.

If you prefer less physical prep work and smoother ice, you probably want to opt for an indoor ice rink. You’ll have to pay a fee but ice rinks often offer skate rentals and a warmer environment or a warming hut. Ice rinks in the Rochester area offer open public skating as well as hockey leagues, and skating lessons. They even provide options for birthday parties and special events. Visit the web site for specifics on each venue.
– Manhattan Square Park and Ice Rink, downtown Rochester was renovated & expanded in 2008, www.cityofrochester.gov/article.aspx?id=8589935137
-The Sports Center at MCC in Henrietta, www.tscmcc.com/page/show/223069-public-skating
-Frank Ritter Memorial Ice Arena at RIT in Henrietta, www.rit.edu/studentaffairs/ciar/facilities_icearena.php
-Lakeshore Hockey Arena on Ling Road in Rochester, www.lakeshorehockeyarena.com
-Scottsville Ice Arena in Scottsville, www.scottsvilleicearena.com
-Genesee Valley Sports Complex Ice Skating Rink in Rochester, www.cityofrochester.gov/GVPSC
-Village Sports Ice Skating Rink on Baird Road in Fairport, www.villagesports.net
-Webster Ice Arena in Webster, www.websterarena.org
-Thomas Creek Ice Arena on Lyndon Road in Fairport, www.tcice.com
-Tuttle North Ice Arena in Brockport, www.brockport.edu/recservices/ice_arena/index.html
-Greater Canandaigua Civic Center in Canandaigua, www.gccc.org

For good free fun, outdoor rinks can be found at Churchville Park, Ellison Park, Highland Park, Fairport Junction Ice Arena next to the Box Factory in Fairport, and Veteran’s Memorial Park in Henrietta. There may be others in your neighborhood. In addition to being free, these rinks come pre-shoveled and are watered regularly to provide a smooth surface. Of course, you’re unlikely to have the rink to yourself as you would on a do-it-yourself pond.

Many ice rinks rent skates but, for a pair of your own, visit the Fairport or Canandaigua locations of RVE Bike & Skate (www.rvebike.com/skates.html), Rochester’s premier ice skate retailer. They’ll help you find the perfect pair for a winter full of skating fun.

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Fairport Junction Ice Rink is open daily 10am-10pm.
Visit RV&E Bike & Skate for all your ice skating needs.
New Ice Skates start at $65.00, Rent them for $5.00 an hour.

They also sell and rent snowshoes and cross-country skis.

Two RV&E stores:
M-F: 10-8, Sat: 9-5, Sun: 12-5 : 585-388-1350 : 40 N. Main St., Fairport
M-F: 10-7, Sat: 9-5, Sun: 12-5 : 585-393-5680 : 168 S. Main St., Canandaigua

http://rvebike.com/

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Outdoor ice rink in Fairport makes for chills and spills

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PressConnects.com, link to original article

First it’s unseasonably warm in April, then it’s snowing (albeit briefly) on Mother’s Day. But now that Memorial Day is nearly here — and June is just around the corner — it’s time to come out into the sunlight and rediscover the joys of the Greater Binghamton outdoors.

Although a few state parks in the region are currently closed because of the ongoing budget gridlock (seven weeks late and counting), there are plenty of other activities for the whole family: hiking, biking, camping, picnics, canoeing, nature tours, bird-watching and so on.

Remember that New Year’s resolution you made five months ago to get more exercise and stay healthier? Nothing says better living than a walk in a park under the good old sunshine.

Here are just some of the choices in the area. To find more around the state, go online to nysparks.state.ny.us.

Broome County

Greenwood Park: Facilities include sand beach, paddle boats, rowboats, canoes, aqua-bikes, kayaks, fishing, snack bar, nature trails, volleyball, horseshoes, camp sites, picnic tables and grills. The park, open daily, is off Nanticoke Road in the Town of Nanticoke. 862-9933 or 778-2193.

Dorchester Park: Activities at the Whitney Point reservoir park include fishing, swimming, sailing, volleyball and horseshoes. Facilities include sand beach, playground equipment, picnic tables and grills. Boat rentals are available. Open daily all year. Route 26, Whitney Point. 692-4612.

Nathaniel Cole Park: Includes 53-acre lake with the largest protected bathing beach in the county. Boat rentals include rowboats, canoes, paddle boats, aqua-bikes, kayaks, and senior-citizen rowboats. The park has picnicking, four pavilions for parties, a concession stand, self-guided nature trails, playgrounds, volleyball and horseshoes. Open daily all year. Colesville Road, Harpursville. 693-1389.

Hawkins Pond Nature Area: Secluded area offering tables, grills, restrooms, shelters, and 4 miles of hiking around a pond. Open daily all year. Go east on Route 17 to Windsor. Take Route 79 south, turn right on Edson Road, left on Scouten Hill Road. Signs lead the way. 693-1389.

Finch Hollow Nature Center: Facilities include a natural history museum, adjacent wildlife sanctuary, a pond and picnic tables. Self-guided nature trails are open every day until dark. 1394 Oakdale Road, Johnson City. 729-4231.

Otsiningo Park: This riverbank park provides bicycle and pedestrian paths as well as picnic areas and community gardens. There are soccer fields, sand volleyball courts, a softball field, a playground and a fitness trail. A trail links the park to Otsiningo North, which has soccer fields behind the Northgate Plaza. Open daily until dark. Bevier Street, Town of Dickinson. 778-6541.

Grippen Park and Grippen Ice Rink: This park features fishing, a boat launch, a shelter (available by reservation) and a softball field. Open daily until dark all year. South Grippen Avenue, Endicott. 748-6323 or 778-2193.

Roundtop Picnic Area: Nestled high above Endicott, this picnic area reveals spectacular views, and includes a playground, restrooms, tables, grills and picnic shelters. Take Route 17C to Lilian Avenue to Overlook Terrace. 748-6323.

Aqua-Terra Park: Consists of 466 acres of wildlife and natural settings. The park offers fishing, tables and grills. Take Pennsylvania Avenue (Hawleyton Road) south to Maxian Road in the Town of Binghamton. 778-2193.
Nature centers

Fred L. Waterman Conservation Education Center: The center offers hiking and birding on 4 miles of nature trails in 96 acres of mature woods and fields. Special programs throughout the year include trail walks, craft classes, river and Hiawatha Island tours, and day camps for children. Scouting programs and birthday parties are welcome.

The center, at 403 Hilton Road, Apalachin (off Route 434), is open all year, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and closed Sundays. The nature trails are open seven days a week from dawn to dusk. Admission is free, but fees are charged for programs. 625-2221 or www.watermancenter.org.

The Waterman has four other properties:

* The Glen in the Town of Union features more than 200 acres of trails, a mature forest and cascading gorge. The Glen is open from dawn to dusk every day. The entrance is about 1.2 miles up Robinson Hill Road, on the right. Robinson Hill Road is off Country Club Road.

* Brick Pond, East Front Street, Owego, is 30 acres of wetland. Excellent birding site.

* Hiawatha Island, 112 acres in the Susquehanna River. Boat entrance is at the western end of Marshland Road in Apalachin. Pontoon boat makes trips to the island for special programs.

* Apalachin Marsh, between the east and west-bound lane in Apalachin, access is off Route 434, half a mile west of Hilton Road. Another excellent birding site with informative signage along the trail.

Binghamton University’s Nature Preserve: Preserve encompasses 182 acres on the BU campus, including a 20-acre wetland. Upcoming activities and events can be found at naturepreserve.binghamton.edu.

Rogers Environmental Education Center: Features a visitor center, picnic areas and hiking trails on 600 acres; programs and guided visits offered. The visitors center is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday; 1 to 4:45 p.m. Saturdays; (1 to 4:45 p.m. Sundays, June through August). Grounds open daily dawn to dusk. Route 80, 1 mile west of Sherburne in Chenango County. 674-4017, www.dec.ny.gov.

State parks

Chenango Valley State Park: Open daily all year, it has more than 1,100 acres with 216 campsites, 24 cabins and facilities for boating, swimming, golfing camping, fishing, hiking, cross-country skiing, sledding, ice skating, picnicking and biking. Features handicap accessible camper recreation and programs, picnic tables, showers, tent and trailer sites. In the Town of Fenton, Route 369, 12 miles north of Binghamton.

Bowman Lake: Facilities for swimming, camping, hiking, biking and fishing. Rowboats, pedal boats and kayaks for rent. Nature center with self-guiding trail brochures. Beach open daily during summer; 8 miles of trails for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the winter. Off Route 220, 8 miles west of Oxford. Camping open year-round, park partially open for deer hunting in gun season. Admission: $4 per vehicle, weekends from May 17 until June 24. Daily charge from June 25 until Labor Day. Weekend charge for a time after Labor Day, then the park is free. 334-2718 or nysparks.state.ny.us/parks.

Salt Springs State Park: On 842 acres in Susquehanna County, Pa. Scenic gorge with salt spring and three waterfalls. Offers hiking trails, hunting and fishing in season, 8 sites for tent camping, 3 rustic camping cottages, picnic areas, nature programs. Some of the park’s trails lead outside of the park to surrounding 300 acres of public land. Open year-round dawn to dusk, camping from mid-April to October. About 30 miles south of Binghamton on Silver Creek Road, off Route 29, in Franklin Forks, Pa. (570) 967-7275, (570) 945-3239, www.friendsofsaltspringspark.org.

Oakley Corners State Forest: Located in the towns of Newark Valley and Owego in eastern Tioga County, this park has two ponds and offers hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross-county skiing. There is also hunting, boating, camping and bird watching. Sixteen miles of trails are available for beginners, intermediate and advanced users. ATVs prohibited on State forests. The park can be accessed via Dutch Town Road or Hullsville Road. 753-3095, www.dec.gov.

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By Nate Robson / The Auburn Citizen, link to original post

The cold weather may have some people cuddled up inside trying to stay warm, but others will lace up their skates and head toward their favorite ice rink. Ice skating is a popular recreational activity this time of year.

For those looking to step onto the ice for the first time, Sheila Card, program coordinator and ice skating instructor at the Skaneateles Community Center, said they could benefit from taking a couple of lessons before hand. “If you have never skated before and you want to get the most enjoyment out of it, you should look into taking some lessons,” Card said. “They will learn how to stop and start and just be able to survive.”

While the rinks at Casey Park in Auburn and at the Skaneateles Community Center are both found inside, Rocky Kelly, manager of the Clinton Square Ice Rink, said one of the appeals of his facility is that it provides outdoor skating. “It’s outside, it’s on the old Erie Canal,” Kelly said. “It’s a historic sight. ”It’s different and it’s a unique experience.“

No matter where people go, visitors should be prepared to deal with weekend crowds at any local skating facility.
At Casey Park, the ice rink occasionally runs low on rental skates and thousands of people can visit the Clinton Square Ice Rink in a single day. “The appeal of it is people can just come out and skate and talk,” Card said. “People can just jump right in and have fun.”

What: Casey Park
Where: North Division Street, Auburn
Open skate fees: $1 for city residents and $2.75 for non-residents; $2 for other rental skates
Open skate hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. Friday; 1 to 3 p.m. and 8 to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 5:15 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday
Info: Call 253-4247

What: Skaneateles Community Center
Where: 97 State St. Road, Skaneateles
Open skate fees: $6.50 for adults, $4.50 for children 18 and younger and children 3 or younger are free
Open skate hours: Vary depending on other activities.
Info: Call 685-2266 or visit http://www.skaneatelescommunitycenter.com

What: Clinton Square Ice Rink
Where: 412 Spencer St., Syracuse
Open skate fees: $3 for adults and $1.50 for children 12 and younger and senior citizens.
Open skate hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and school vacations; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays. Hours change based on weather, and visitors are encouraged to call ahead of time to confirm the rink is open.
Info: Call 423-0129 or visit http://www.syracuse.ny.us/PARKS/clintonSquareRink.html

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BY JOAN BARONE MCDONALD, The Buffalo News, Link to original post

Surviving a Buffalo winter can be tough: snow, rain, cold temperatures and a lack of sunshine can leave Western New Yorkers feeling bored and depressed. Some lucky snowbirds jet off to warmer climates, but most of us are compelled to find other ways to beat the winter blues.

The urge to simply hunker down and isolate ourselves from the elements, however appealing, may not be the best solution. Research shows that direct contact with our natural environment improves mental health. The idea isn’t new. Author Henry David Thoreau preached it from Walden Pond more than 150 years ago, saying, “I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will direct us aright,” and psychologists today agree.

This winter, rather than languishing in front of the television or computer screen, get out and enjoy all that our nearby parks and recreation areas have to offer. And end it all with a steaming mug of hot cocoa!

Winter landscapes

The summer pleasures of Delaware Park, a 350-acre masterpiece created by landscape artist Frederick Law Olmsted, are well-known to Buffalonians, but many forget that winter in the park holds a beauty all its own. Walk, snowshoe or crosscountry ski through the park during a gentle snowfall and take in a pastoral scene of scattered trees and snow-covered meadows. If you have a thrill gene, sled down Shakespeare Hill, making sure to notice the contrast between your pounding heart and serene Hoyt Lake at the foot of the slope.

Located within Delaware Park, the Buffalo Zoo has certain advantages in winter. Check out the Gorilla House where, with fewer visitors, you’ll have an unobstructed view of the primate antics. And don’t miss Rainforest Falls, a tropical paradise of Spanish moss and huge-frond ferns, complete with a rushing waterfall and a quaint rope bridge. Here, giant anteaters nose for termites, capybaras scout the riverbank, brightly colored parrots perch on branches, and Scarlet Ibises flit about the greenery overhead. It’s warm, awe-inspiring—and much cheaper than a trip to Costa Rica.

The bears will be outside waiting for company and, if you time it right and arrive around lunch time, you can watch them feed. You’ll also be able to stroll past the snow leopard, the gemsboks, the pacing spotted hyenas and, of course, the bisons, all hardy enough to remain outdoors.

Zoo admission is $9.50 adults, $6 children; under 23 months, free. Open daily 10 a. m. to 4 p. m.; closed Mondays and Tuesdays in January and February. For information: www.buffalozoo.org.

If skating is your thing, don’t miss Buffalo’s answer to Rockefeller Center: Rotary Rink in downtown’s Fountain Plaza. Here you can rent skates for $4 and glide around, surrounded by tall buildings, with the sun glistening in ribbons on the well-groomed ice. If you’re not in the mood to strap on skates, you can sit on a bench and perhaps catch a glimpse of a businessman in dress pants and a fedora floating gracefully around during his lunch hour, or a Dad clutching his toddler’s hand as they slip around the rink. Open through March 14, hours are 11 a. m. to 2 p. m. and 5 to 9 p. m. Tuesdays through Fridays; 11 a. m. to 10 p. m. Saturdays; and 11 a. m. to 6 p. m. Sundays. Admission is free.

Tifft Nature Preserve is a 264-acre nature refuge dedicated to conservation and environmental education. Visitors can rent snowshoes on site or bring along their own cross-country skis and take advantage of five miles of nature trails. There’s no cost to enjoy the trails and other outdoor sights during daylight hours at the preserve, located at 1200 Fuhrmann Blvd. The visitor’s center is open 10 a. m. to 4 p. m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p. m. Sunday.

Tifft also hosts events, such as the “Full Moon Stroll,” 6 to 7:30 p. m. Jan. 30, billed as a chance to “enjoy the sights and sounds of a winter night.” Cost is $5; snowshoe rental is $2. To register, call 896-5200, Ext. 338. On Feb. 21, Winter Fest will return to Tifft with hikes, winter arts and crafts, and workshops. Food and hot beverages will accompany the merriment. It’s free, with a suggested donation of $3.

For general information: 825-6397, www.sciencebuff.org.

In addition to self-guided trails found in other parks, Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve—a unique 292-acre complex of forests, ponds and wetlands on Honorine Drive in Depew— offers guided nature walks at 10 a. m. Saturdays through the Department of Environmental Conservation. These free walks, lasting about 90 minutes, are held rain, snow or shine. Other DEC programs offered each month include snowshoe and ski adventures and walks on seasonal topics. For more information: 683-5959,www.dec.ny.gov/education/1837.html.

Take a hike

If you enjoy group activities, the Foothills Trail Club offers outings in all seasons. When asked about the special pleasures of winter hikes, member Cheryl Peluso explains that, in addition to the sheer beauty of a quiet, snow-blanketed woods, “you can often see signs of wildlife in winter in the form of tracks, while in the summer, wildlife is more difficult to spot.”

If such an idea touches your fancy, you can join the group on various treks thorough locales like Elma Meadows, Stiglmeier Park, Reinstein Woods, Como Park and Tifft Nature Preserve. On Sunday, for example, the group meets at 1 p. m. for a hike along the Ellicott Creek Bike Path in Amherst (meet at the North Forest Road parking lot); at 1 p. m. Jan. 23, the group takes a four-mile trek through Stiglmeier Park. Refer to www.foothillstrailclub.org for additional info.

In the country

If you love sledding, head out to Chestnut Ridge in Orchard Park. The 350-foot sledding hill is open all winter—as long as there is snow. You can ride toboggans, tubes or sleds, catching a view of Lake Erie and the city as you speed down the hill. For the less adventurous, the observation platform on the upper level of the Casino also provides an impressive view, or simply sit by the fire inside and sip hot chocolate. Winter sports enthusiasts can snowshoe, hike, snowmobile and cross-country ski in the park, which is open every day until dark.

For some quality outdoor skate time in the Southtowns, drop in at the Time Warner Classic Rink, 41 Riley St. in East Aurora. Glide across the glistening ice during public skate hours, breathe in the crisp winter air, and listen to the piped-in tunes; you may just feel like you are in an old-fashioned Currier and Ives lithograph. A heated dome is set up adjacent to the rink in case the chilly air becomes a bit overwhelming.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors, with skate rentals available for $3. Public skate times are 7 to 9 p. m. Fridays; 2 to 4 p. m. and 7 to 9 p. m. Saturdays; and 2 to 4 p. m. Sundays. Check the Web site (www.thinkrink.org) for additional information.

Situated on Route 240 in Glenwood, Sprague Brook Park offers wide, well-groomed trails perfect for novice crosscountry skiers and snowshoers. The 3-mile loop wends through peaceful woodlands, quiet enough to hear the crunch of the snow underfoot and enjoy the sight of the sun slanting through the pines. If you don’t own equipment, rental is possible from nearby Colden Ski Rental (8843 State Road) at $12 a day. Other recreational alternatives in the park include hiking, sledding and snowmobiling.

If speed is what you crave, skiing or snowboarding at Kissing Bridge will fill the bill. With about 16 feet of snowfall each season, KB’s 700 acres boast 30-plus ski runs, ranging from beginner to advanced. Feel the adrenaline rush as you swish down the slopes, powdery snow pluming behind you, and you’re sure to appreciate living in Buffalo just a little more. Lift tickets vary in price from $28 to $52, depending on age, length of ticket and time slot (weekday or weekend). Check www.kbski.com for specifics.

At almost 10 stories high and 600 feet long, the run at Colden Tubing, adjacent to KB North, promises to offer “Western New York’s No. 1 thrill ride.” Tubers are towed up to the top of the hill, so your only job is to glide down the groomed lanes from the summit to the valley floor. Why not get off the couch and take the plunge? Four hours on the slope will only set you back $15.

Happy ending

Butterwood Desserts on Route 240 in West Falls makes what might be the best cup of hot chocolate outside of Holland. The cocoa mix is a secret in-house recipe that is combined with cream and milk. Thick and velvety on the tongue, with a robust flavor that leans toward the dark chocolate family, this is a treat you shouldn’t miss. For $3.95 you can select regular, mocha, or an extraordinary Alpine white. Sit in a booth, watch the snow fall gently outside, listen to Frank Sinatra croon, and enjoy the winter season. Hey, you got off the couch; you deserve it! •

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Located in the heart of downtown Syracuse, the Clinton Square Ice Rink is one of the city’s most popular destinations in the winter months. Open Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and school vacations 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., 315-423-0129, open now through March 31.

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