Good Neighbors

Woman Invites Community To Use Backyard Ice Rink For Free

The pond has been a neighborhood gathering place for decades.

Here's a story that feels kind of like an old-time movie or story book, about a neighborhood gathering place that's all thanks to one woman.

For years, Barb Clark has invited people to use the frozen pond on her property in New Brunswick, Canada as a community ice rink. The retiree spends about 15 hours each week maintaining the rink, which is usually ready for the public to use starting around November.

Barb Clark opens her backyard skating rink to the public every November. Barb Dickinson Clark/Facebook

People can use the rink any day of the week, but Clark says that Sundays are by far the busiest days at the pond. On a recent weekend, she said there were about 30 skaters doing laps and practicing ice hockey moves.

"We just never really know how many people will be here," she told CBC News.

The rink has become a popular neighborhood hangout and Clark takes great care in keeping it up for her visitors. She even designed her own Zamboni-like ice resurfacer that she uses to clean and smooth the ice.

Clark has been working on her makeshift ice resurfacer for 10 years. Barb Dickinson Clark/Facebook

The rink is decorated with a string of glowing lights and there's a bench for folks to use to sit and watch skaters or take a rest. Next to the rink, Clark turned an old workshop into a dressing room complete with a woodstove, where people can lace up their skates and get warm.

The dressing room also has a rack of about 30 pairs of skates in different sizes. It was important for Clark to give everyone a chance to use the rink.

"Parents or grandparents would come with their kids or grandkids and they're just going to watch them skate, but I say, 'Why don't you go out for a skate?'" she said.

An old workshop acts as a dressing room with free skate rentals and a wood stove to keep warm. Barb Dickinson Clark/Facebook

Some of the adults who bring their children to the rink used to come to Barb's pond when they were kids – a fact that makes all the hard work maintaining the rink worthwhile.

"I guess I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing the kids enjoying it, and from adults now that I used to skate with on the pond," Clark said.

Even though some days are busier than others at the rink, Clark keeps the rink open most days for anyone who might show up.

For Clark, it's all about bringing the community together.

"A lot of people tell me they really appreciate it, and I guess that makes me happy," she said.

What a great way to spread happiness and community in her town. Kudos to Clark for taking on the task of maintaining the rink so that others can enjoy it!

Families have been visiting Clark's backyard pond for decades. Barb Dickinson Clark/Facebook

How can you start something good?

If you live in New Brunswick, or are planning a visit that way, you can stop by Barb Clark's backyard pond for a skate:

5890 Route 105, Lower Brighton, E7P 1A3

Check out Barb's Facebook page for more info and updates on the pond.

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