Jan 25, 2024
‘It’s about the cold, and the adrenaline rush!’
The Oval Ice Skating Rink in Worcester is welcoming skaters to glide across the city’s Common behind City Hall this winter, making a healthy outdoor activity fun and accessible.
“We’re bringing something for all the people of central Massachusetts to come out and enjoy,” said Eric D. Batista, city manager of Worcester, as dozens of families, teens and others crowded onto the Common under twinkling lights for a recent winter festival.
The rink is sponsored by the state’s largest nonprofit health plan, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and saw more than 10,500 ice skaters last year, according to organizers.
“We come every year, and we bring the kids,” said former ice-hockey player turned grandfather, Keith Perley, 50, of Worcester as his kids laced up their skates to hit the ice.
“It’s about the cold, and the adrenaline rush,” said Adrian Colon, 17, as he glided across the rink calling to his friends to join him.
“I don’t know if I like ice skating, but I’m excited,” squealed 5-year-old Kaiya Delgado as her mother prepared her for the ice.
The Oval Ice Skating Rink:
On the sidelines, Worcester Mayor Joseph M. Petty looked on.
“It’s very affordable, very family oriented, and all of Worcester County can come and enjoy this,” he said. “You can be a beginner or you can be experienced, just come on down and enjoy!”
“You won’t see me on skates,” the mayor added with a laugh, “but a lot of people are having fun out there.”
The 12,000-square-foot rink will stay open through February vacation, and Blue Cross is sponsoring free skate days on Jan. 26, 27 and 28, as well as Feb. 16, with complimentary skate rentals for children 12 and under.
Blue Cross supports health and wellness by encouraging outdoor activity that supports physical and mental well-being, said Jeff Bellows, Blue Cross vice president of corporate citizenship & public affairs.
“Events like this create lasting memories for families,” he said, noting the rink is one element of Blue Cross’ broad support for Worcester, including funding the city’s annual Fitness in the Park Program as well as the fitness center at the Worcester senior center.
According to a 2021 Harvard Medical School study, 30 minutes of ice skating can burn between 210-294 calories, making it one of the most beneficial winter activities for fitness. It also engages nearly every muscle group in the body, promotes joint flexibility, and supports cardiovascular health.
“Ice skating is almost therapeutic. It’s the best exercise and you don’t even realize it -- outside the fact that your ankles are on fire,” said Ariel Rosen, 30, a professional DJ, who looks to ice skating as a way to reconnect with friends. “It’s really a good time! It’s almost impossible to find an affordable winter sport. So having something like this is great for the community. It’s great to get people out and it keeps people active!”
“It brings back old memories of when I was a child,” added Rosen’s friend, Jeremy Frost, 35, of Boston. “I’ve been ice skating since I could remember. We’re making new memories now.”
“I can go really fast on the ice! I’m slowing down because of him,” Jade Rowe, 17, teased her friend Michael Simmarano, also 17. The Worcester teens were beaming as they glided across the rink, hand in hand.
“We wanted to hang out with each other and this was a great place to do it. And it’s just about free, so we called our friends to meet us down here,” said Simmarano.
You’re active, sometimes you fall down and you got to get back up and all of that is part of your health. Blue Cross Blue Shield is a great part of that to ensure that people of this community are staying active and staying healthy