After three years of weather-related cancellations,
The outdoor ice-skating event took place at Glacier Park, West 101st Street and South 78th Avenue for the fisrt time in 2011. The 2014 Skate Under the Stars was scheduled to take place but heavy rain on the day of the event called for a last-minute cancellation.
Both the 2012 and 2013 events were cancelled due to unseasonably warm winter weather when Glacier Park was described by one city alderman as more of a lake instead than an ice-skating rink. The 2015 event was finally able to take place with the perfect mix of a cold winter and a mild night although temperatures in the high 30s during the day cast some doubt.
Tyler Rafa, 6, of Palos Hills showed off his ice skating skills while wearing a personalized Blackhawks jersey. An avid hockey player at Southwest Ice Arena in Crestwood, Rafa says he loves hockey and plays any chance he gets. His father, Joe, tended to differ on his views of the ice and hockey.
“I like field hockey better,” Joe joked.
Joe had just learned how to ice skate a few months prior to the event, according to Tyler’s uncle, Mark Kleefisch of Mokena.
“Even if you aren’t the best skater, this is a really nice event and it’s beautiful outside,” Kleefisch said.
The family event is sponsored by 4th ward Aldermen Joe Marrotta and Ricky Moore and encouraged local families to come out of winter hibernation. Marrotta watched alongside the rink as his two sons, Sean, 18, and Kyle, 16, played an intense game of hockey.
“My sons are very athletic and competitive but prefer hockey for fun,” Marrotta said.
Marrotta’s older son may not play hockey in college but he will play on the gridiron. Sean was recently offered a full football scholarship and he is planning on attending Benedictine University.
Although boys were dominating the hockey portion of the ice rink, they were not the only ones enjoying the event. Isabella Stillo, 7, of Palos Hills, gracefully made her way across the ice with her dream of one day becoming an Olympic figure skater.
“I really like ice skating a lot,” she said, “I take lessons and I am able to do tricks now too. When I grow up I am going to be a figure skater.”
Stillo also takes ice skating lessons at Southwest Arena.
“She is very good,” her mother, Carol, said, “Her younger sister (Lese) did not take so well to the sport, but Isabella just loves ice skating and she really is one of the top skaters in her class.”
Lese, 6, originally signed up for ice skating with her sister but gave up the sport after only a few weeks.
“She didn’t like it,” her sister explained.
However, the sisters both were having fun Friday night skating hand-in-hand with their mother back and forth across the ice.
Not only is the event is designed to bring everyone together, it encourages and gives children in the community a chance to get outside and get some exercise during the cold weather, while enjoying the winter weather by ice skating, playing hockey and enjoying the heat of a couple of nearby fire pits.