Winter’s Absence Drives
Ice Academy Attendance
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)
Fairfield, CT – The forecast for the latter half of School Vacation Week called for temperatures in the mid to high 50s. The warm spell was exemplary of an unseasonably mild winter that has area kids enjoying spring-like activities but also missing typical winter pursuits.
The mildness certainly hadn’t affected business over at Fairfield’s Ice Academy, in the Sportsplex at 85 Mill Plain Road, which was jam packed Wednesday morning. In fact, the absence of snow was making access easier and driving attendance. The first half of Vacation Week had seen over 100 kids per day visiting the Academy, according to Assistant Manager Laura Brennan.
“Traffic has been on par with last year, if not better,” said Tamara Guarino, the Ice Academy’s Managing Director. “Because the weather hasn’t been bad, people are able to make it here more easily, so our attendance has been more consistent. People are not staying indoors and are being active. And, technically, it’s still winter and skating is a winter sport.”
Guarino added, however, that the facility is a popular draw at any time because of its unique positioning. “Compared with other rinks, we’re small and personable,” she said. “The ratio of students to instructors is much smaller than other area rinks. Its downtown location is also convenient for local families. And skating is a great sport whether there’s snow on the ground or not.”
Kurt Anderson, a Fairfield parent whose son is in the Academy’s Mite Travel Hockey program, said the season had certainly been a different one compared with last year. “Normally this time of year, our family would be at ski areas like Southington or Mohawk, or sledding,” he said. “But due to the lack of snow and ice, we’re riding bikes and playing on the swingset. The only winter sports we’ve really been able to do are skating and hockey here at the Academy, or traveling way north for skiing on manmade snow. Last winter, we had snow measurable in feet and we were stuck in the house. This year, the daffodils are already pushing up in the yard.”
Another Mite hockey player parent, Matt Loguercio, of Easton, related a similar perspective. “This time last year, we were at Jiminy Peak and my son was in ski school,” he said. “This year, we’ve been playing soccer on the front lawn, whereas last year we were trying to find the front yard. There are no restrictions on activities this year. Of course, we’re doing more warm weather activities, but want to keep up my son’s skating skills. The Academy is a great alternative to the typical vacation camp.”
Anderson added, “Last year, the kids didn’t need an outlet because they were out of school so much. They really needed the break from school this year.”
Fairfielder Finula Milici, 12, skating with her sister Bella and friend Maddie, was glad to have an opportunity to enjoy a winter pursuit. “I really miss the snow,” she said. “We would be skiing or playing in the snow. It’s nice to be able to come to the Academy to do a winter sport.”