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Temporary Ice Rinks Created For Two Uptown Parks

(Eric Tank)

Cherry and Willcox Parks both now have temporary ice skating rinks through the work of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, neighborhood organizations, local business and individual donations.

Before being converted, the East Hills office was an ice rink shanty. It will once again serve that purpose on the weekends.

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks has initiated the facilitation of temporary ice skating rinks in both Cherry and Wilcox parks.

The Eastown Community Association and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks teamed up to build an ice rink in Wilcox Park last week. Wilcox park can be accessed from Youell Avenue, Milton Street or Robinson Road.

"The free neighborhood ice skating rink is another way for us to reach out to our residents and provide them with an additional opportunity to enjoy our Eastown park, even when it's cold outside," says Lindsey Ruffin, ECA Executive Director. "Many of our residents already utilize the park during the winter months to go on walks and to go sledding. It's nice to give them an additional option. We are a walkable, all seasons neighborhood and it's exciting to see all of the volunteers stepping up to build and maintain this rink, including Aquinas students, nearby residents and our business sponsors, who covered all of the expenses."

Local businesses including Smitty's Specialty Beverage, Harmony Brewing Company, Frances Walks Your Dog, Yesterdog and 360 Massage and Holistic Care have sponsored the Eastown project.

The ECA's mission is to foster a safe, diverse and walkable Eastown neighborhood by creating opportunities for neighbors and friends to engage and connect.

On Saturday, January 25, East Hills Council of Neighbors (EHCN) will open the Cherry Park rink to the public starting with a winter kick-off party. The party starts at 10 a.m. and lasts until 2 p.m. There will be a snowman building contest with prizes from local businesses including The Green Well, Grove, Marie Catrib's, Brick Road Pizza, The Winchester and Brewery Vivant.

Cherry Park is located at the corner of Eastern Avenue and Cherry Street. The EHCN office will be open to skaters on the weekends. The office, located on the northeast corner of the lot was originally an ice rink shanty. Donations of skates, labor and help maintaining the rink and money are being accepted through the EHCN. Interested persons can contact Rachel Lee at 616-454-9079.

"The Cherry Park Ice Skating Rink is a perfect example of how East Hills can promote the neighborhood as a historic, active, four-season neighborhood," says EHCN director Rachel Lee. "We want residents to continue to use the park during the winter months. Cherry Park is open year round. In 1927, the East Hills office was built as a replacement to an ice skating shanty so it could be used year round. The 2014 ice skating rink is a return to when our urban parks served as an incredible resource for play and fun for the community."

Ice skating at both parks is free and open to the public during daylight hours.

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