A girl ice skating
Jan 20, 2022 - Hastings Lake YMCA

Elmhurst YMCA Ice Rink creates a ‘second space’ for skaters of all ages

At their core, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago’s locations serve as “second spaces” outside the home where people of all identities can live and play.

With cold temperatures and the COVID-19 pandemic limiting where families can safely stay active this winter, places like the Elmhurst YMCA Ice Rink are vital to our community’s wellbeing.

Over 61 years of operation, the Elmhurst YMCA Ice Rink has become a beloved local staple, offering skate lessons and hockey leagues for every age, gender, and skill level. One of only two YMCAs in the nation with an ice rink, the Elmhurst YMCA brings its slice of winter wonderland to the community every season through Open Skate hours that anyone can enjoy.

During select hours from now until February 26, families can take to the ice without having to trek to Chicago’s Millennium Park. With free admission for members and skate rentals at just $5, the Elmhurst YMCA Ice Rink makes safe, winter fun more accessible.

“It’s just great to see families hang out, have fun, and be outside,” said Bobby Smith, Ice Rink Lead at the Elmhurst YMCA. “The kids especially, they need this … they need a place to go—especially during the pandemic. It makes a huge difference in their lives.”

For Olivia, a young skater who also takes lessons at the Elmhurst YMCA Ice Rink, open skate provided the opportunity to practice her skills in a relaxed, recreational environment.

“Today, I got to do things I learn in class, like ‘snowman,’ where you make little circles with your skates, and ‘snowplow,’ which is how you stop by making a pizza shape with your feet,” Olivia explained, taking off her skates after an action-packed open skate session. “But the best part is that I get to go super fast!” 

While some things have changed since the Elmhurst YMCA Ice Rink first opened—masks are required in all indoor spaces including the skate rental station, for instance—what remains constant is the rink’s commitment to bringing winter joy to the community at large.

Taking inventory of the rink’s rental skates, Smith called the Elmhurst YMCA Ice Rink “the Wrigley Field of outdoor rinks in Chicagoland.” When asked what he meant by that, Smith replied without hesitation: “Plain and simple—this place is a gem.”