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Cloudy, 4 degrees. The ice is great, and there is a typically large crowd of people happily skating around, another crowd waiting in line to rent skates. We ran into a favourite Dufferin rink rat who said he was too tired for hockey and instead felt like a little pleasure skating. He was the first on the ice at Dufferin this season, waiting at the doors at 9am when the first staff member arrived!
Special day, advertised all over the TV -- sledge day at the rink, and the mayor will play too. A bright sunny day of 4 degrees above 0, so many of the other City rinks were very soft. But City Hall Rink has the blessing of the Sheraton Hotel to the southwest, throwing shade for the first half of the afternoon.
Sledges are meant to let people with physical disabilities play hockey. This is their contact: http://www.torontosledgehockey.com/
At this event there were quite a few kids, some of them apparently able-bodied. There were also three para-olympians, who were very good on the sledges. There were many, many reporters and cameras.
The event was co-sponsored by Bell, so the two school classes there all wore bell toques as they listened to the speeches. Parks director Don Boyle introduced the mayor, plus a gold medalist in sledging, from the para-olympics (he spoke about winning despite his amputated lower leg), and the corporate sponsors (as well as Brenda Librecz, the general manager). All were wearing special hockey shirts with their names on them. Don Boyle said that last year the sledge hockey program had 31 people signed up, this year 40. Disabled kids get priority but able kids can play too.
The mayor emphasized that Toronto is a city that is inclusive and that this program could never happen without private sector support. Then he got in his sledge, and the photo ops and the game started.
The zamboni comes on to do the ice and one of the two rink guards (fully suited in safety jacket, helmet, and skates) has some fun. While the zamboni is on the north side of the rink the worker skates fast into the middle of the rink, drops so his bum is on the ice and spins with his knees at his chin. He (or she) does this a couple more times to the delight of the other skaters.
Zamboni was just on the ice. The rink was absolutely packed, long line-up to borrow skates. Two rink guards for maybe 500 people? But no problems.
Good, hard, smooth, shiny ice. Some dirt around edges. A Code of conduct with helmet rules is posted in change room. They try to zamboni every couple of hours. There were 3 rink guards. 2 people working the rentals but they are private. It is their music that is playing for the entire rink, a commercial rack/pop station. Rentals cost $9. There is a city info center that is all closed up. It is early evening and packed with visitors from all over – why is that all shut up?
There are mats, but none in, or leading to, the washrooms, nor around the outskirts of the ice.
There's no food at the rink, but hot dog trucks parked at the road side. The change room is tiny and cramped. There are lockers, but no windows, two benches with door closed and generally uninviting atmosphere. There's no signage outside of the change room.
High 7 celsius, sunny. Low 1. At 2.45 pm the ice was excellent and there were hundreds of people on it. The zamboni driver flooded the ice -- said he wasn't worried because 7 degrees is not that warm and also the shadow of the big hotel covered the rink almost completely -- no sun on the ice.
City Hall had about half an inch of water; 2 skaters. Very poor lighting.
At 4 pm the rink was very wet, though skateable. It was only 7 degrees and cloudy! It sounds like maybe the zamboni driver at City Hall Rink had put on a hot water flood today, which doesn't work in warm weather.
The skate rental place opened yesterday, and it looks like they got some new skates, which are red with "rental" written across the back, very handsome.
There were two people at the rink, one putting on her skates and the other skating around. The ice looked good, solid. There were a few pylons down one third of the pad where the ice looked a little bit patchy.
The rink was open and the lower patch in the ice was fixed. There were three rink guards and twelve skaters at 3 p.m. despite the sun and 8 degrees, the ice had no melted spots.
We asked one rink guard if the rink phone wasn't working, because calls of inquiry had been coming in to the Dufferin Rink "City Rinks hotline," but the Dufferin Park staff had not been able to find out for sure.
The rink guard said their phone was broken. We knocked on the zamboni driver's door. His name is Clyde, and he let us use his phone to call the hotline staff.
The skate rental was closed, and we asked Clyde when it would be open. He said he knows nothing about it because the rental concession is run by a private company. The rink guards also didn't know, although people were asking them. It's the Cavalcade of Lights today, so some people had come for that.
The ice looked good despite 7 degrees and sunshine. But there was a strip in the middle that was not properly frozen. Some Australian tourists had gone out on the rink and skated for a few minutes until the zamboni driver caught them. He made them get off and told them the rink might not open tomorrow because of the small patch in the middle. They went off to Harbourfront Rink.