OGDENSBURG — Skaters from the Ogdensburg Figure Skating Club were recently welcomed back to the ice almost a month after the closing of the city’s Lockwood Arena.
After much debate about the early reopening of the Lockwood Arena at the Ogdensburg City Council meeting Jan. 11, the arena reopened three days earlier than originally planned — Jan. 13.
“With so much going on with the (COVID) pandemic right now, we need to think about our youths’ mental health,” City Councilor Nichole L. Kennedy said. “Kids need to be able to get out and get exercise and they need to do it in a way that is monitored by adults and responsible organizations. I see how hard it is for kids to not be in school and interact with their friends. So if they have the opportunity to do so safely outside of school, I think we need to take advantage of it.”
The Lockwood Arena reopened Jan. 13 after closing Dec. 18. Roughly 40 skaters from the Ogdensburg Figure Skating Club made their way to the arena after a long month of waiting.
“So many kids struggle with not being able to do the normal things,” Ogdensburg Figure Skating Club coach and board president Lauren Morely said. “This is something they really look forward to every year. When we had to shut down it was a huge disappointment, so being able to be open is really great.”
The club is offering its usual classes including basic skills, 15-minute group lessons and individual lessons with coaches or pro skaters, but does not anticipate any performances this year.
“We had to cancel our performances last year,” Mrs. Morley said. “I think everyone is really fearful of putting all the time, work and money into it and having to cancel again.”
The club is considering the possibility of virtual performances, but has not come to a decision on whether they will go forward with it.
“I have thought about doing some virtual performances where we can release it online, especially so grandparents and people out of the area can enjoy it and watch,” she added.
The club has been working with the city and the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department to ensure they follow all COVID-19 guidelines in order to remain open including a mask mandate, limiting the arena capacity to 50 people and social distancing.
“To put on a performance we wouldn’t even be able to have all of our skaters in the building,” Mrs. Morley said. “But the skaters are still getting a lot out of it because they’re getting the social aspect and are working on their skills.”
Ms. Kennedy echoed the importance of the arena being open to the skaters and the community.
“When you see something like the arena being open, it gives you a little bit of hope and I think that’s what people are looking for right now,” Ms. Kennedy said. “We can live responsibly and still have things to look forward to which is something I think is important right now.”