Ice Skating on Lake Mitchell Leads to New Facebook Group

Long Stretch of Cold Days a Boom for Hockey Enthusiasts


Biagio and Jacques Vermandois were captured by photographer Ocean Morisset last week.

By Regina Clarkin

For the first time in three years, this week it was cold enough for a consecutive number of days that Lake Mitchell in Depew Park froze, making it safe for ice skating. When the green sign went up people started showing up with shovels and skates, and pretty soon they were talking to each other about how wonderful it was to be on the ice in the winter.  Through that conversation, Peekskill Ice Club was formed on Facebook.

”In the age of global warming, this is a gift,” said Barbara Peterson.  Peterson was walking in the park one day and saw the green sign indicating it was safe to skate. She returned to her Union Avenue home and got her skates and promptly got on the ice, skating along any paths that were shoveled.  

The ice loving community includes people of all ages and skating ability, including the innovation of a rigged Zamboni (an ice smoothing machine) by Tom Peterson, son of Barbara, who remembers skating on ponds in the 1980’s when her children were young.

The newly formed Peekskill Ice Club, with 36 members, was created by Conor Greene – who grew up playing hockey in New Jersey. He welcomes others to join the group to be informed about conditions, and to enjoy the rare pleasure of skating on a pond with neighbors. Greene said he envisions the group to also be a marketplace for those looking to sell some skates and hockey sticks that might be unused in a basement or closet. A long-term goal of the group is for the city to bring a seasonal skating rink to Depew Park each winter, and not have to rely on the ice in Lake Mitchell to freeze. “There is a desire and a need for something that is more seasonal than a few weekends a year,” said Greene.  

Cathy Montaldo of the city’s parks department posted on the Facebook page that skating is on the north side of the lake as the south side tends to not freeze as well because it’s shallower. That explains why there is a green safe to skate sign at one end and a red stop sign at the other end.

Zamboni rigged by Tom Peterson smooths the ice.

Edward Barthelmes,13, said he and his family walk regularly in the park with their dog and when he saw the lake was frozen over he couldn’t wait to get on the ice. “It was kind of cool that you couldn’t tell where the pond ended because it’s flat all over there. There aren’t any steep banks,” he said. He helped out with shoveling to clear a space and was surprised at how hot and sore he got from shoveling. “But it was a lot of fun and someone handed me a hockey stick.” He had not played the sport before. 

Greene said he hears from people who’ve lived here for years that skating on ponds used to be a staple of life in Peekskill. “It’s a great way to get exercise and get out of the house on a cold day. It’s an amazing setting where you can walk around on the ice in the middle of the lake that you usually walk alongside,” said Greene. One day last weekend, Peterson came equipped with a container of hot chocolate to give to those skating.

Having fun on the ice were Luke and Cole Foster and Hudson and Ted Peterson

“I have fond memories of a benevolent mother coming with hot cocoa – and how appreciative I was to get warmed up and then go back out on the ice again,” she recalled. 

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