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Sheffield couple creates public ice rink

SHEFFIELD — While looking to create a great spot where family and friends could meet, spend time together and enjoy some fun outdoor winter recreational activities, Mary Ann and Rick Cernovich of Sheffield decided to build a public ice skating rink right in their side yard.

With a newly open space after a recent tree clearing job, and knowing families would be home for holidays with spouses, children and grandchildren looking for a fun activity to partake in together, they gathered needed materials and handcrafted the 44-by-100-foot ice skating rink.

"It's a really fun family activity for people. They are a lot of families home for Christmas who come and skate everyday. They stay about 20 to 30 minutes maximum," Mary Ann explained. "It's just a great opportunity to have good quality family time."

Rick, along with his brother and a couple friends, got together for the building process. The construction took a couple days, with just one minor set-back at first.

Mary Ann said the first time the walls were up and the fire department came to fill them in water, one of the sides broke free and water went pouring out everywhere and down the street.

The glitch, however, didn't stop the determined group, as they went back to work making a couple adjustments, which held water on the second try.

"We've had such cold weather, which helped it freeze really great," Mary Ann said. "We fully rely on Mother Nature to keep it frozen. When the weather starts to warm up, we'll have to take it down."

The Cernovich family didn't stop at the ice rink, however. On visits to garage sales and antique stores, they've created a collection of various sized ice skates and hockey skates, which they've made available in the barn outside near the rink. Skaters in need of an extra pair are welcome to borrow as they wish. The Cernovichs also have outdoor lighting available for the night skaters. Skaters are welcomed any time of any day to skate.

When asked if the couple have been big fans of ice skating their whole life, Mary Ann admits to reminiscing about winters when she was growing up in Sheffield. Friends would gather out on the forzen pond at the edge of town, which created a recreational hot spot for all the kids in town. Like in the movies, girls would have one half for figure skating and boys took the other half for hockey games.

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Where to skate in Bureau County

• Rick and Mary Ann Cernovich's home, located at 520 S. Main St., Sheffield.

• Tennis courts, located in Wyanet Memorial Park.

• Hall Township's Echo Bluff Park, located off Route 29, between Spring Valley and DePue. The park also provides lessons, both private and for groups. There is currently a sign-up for an informational meeting on ice skating lesson to be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11. For more information call the park at 815-447-2115.

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