FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Jan. 30, 2020) -- For a good half-hour, Amanda Neutkens and her young daughter Felicity had their own private skating rink.
Fort Drum's new outdoor ice rink opened Jan. 29, and Neutkens said that she wanted to beat the opening day rush. So, she bundled up her 2 and one-half year-old, packed their skates in the car and headed out to Remington Park as soon as the rink opened.
"It was absolutely awesome," she said. "It's a pretty day, and someone posted online that it was opening today and I said, 'We're going.'"
This was Felicity's second time on ice, and the smiles and laughter emerged as her confidence grew. Neutkens said that her daughter loves the outdoors, and she is fascinated with sleds and scooters - anything she can move fast in.
"I think she's really going to take to skating," Neutkins said. "So, I want to get her out her while she's little and get her familiar with it. I grew up roller skating and then roller blading and a little ice skating, so I love any kind of skating."
Neutkens said that she found the skating hours to be convenient for her - well before school lets out and accommodating to the family schedule.
"We may be here every day," Neutkens said. "I definitely think this something we'll do at least multiple times a week."
The rink was erected with the help from Fort Drum Public Works weeks ago, but conditions were not safe for skating until now.
"Mother Nature finally cooperated with us, and we're excited for people to have a new place to ice skate," said Becky Morgia, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Community Recreation Division chief. "There's a good thick layer of ice and the conditions are great right now to skate."
Some people brought their own skates, while others borrowed new pairs from FMWR that were just purchased through a local sponsor.
"Carthage Area Hospital is sponsoring the ice rink, which means they are helping us get ice skates at no cost to our Soldiers and family members," said Michelle Winter, FMWR marketing director.
The skates will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limited variety of sizes for children and adults.
"Thirty to 35 percent of our overall patient base consists of Fort Drum Soldiers and families. We also have a number of Fort Drum community members who work for the hospital," said Taylour Scanlin, Carthage Area Hospital Foundation and Marketing executive director. "Sponsorship of the new ice rink is a great way to support the Fort Drum community and to give back to part of our hospital family."
Morgia said that she was hoping the rink would be operational in time for Winter Blast, scheduled Feb. 13 at Remington Park. This event features both indoor and outdoor activities for families, and a meet-and-greet with the Watertown Wolves Hockey Team. People can fuel and warm up with some bread bowl soup and finger foods, courtesy of the Gary Sinise Foundation.
The FMWR ice rink is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
A sign leading into Remington Park will have flags indicating when the rink is open to the public (green flag), closed due to weather conditions (red) or reserved for a special event (blue).
For more information, call the Remington Park office at (315) 774-7331 or visit https://www.facebook.com/Fort-Drum-Remington-Park-Recreational-Lodging.