Saturday January 5, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- The First Street Common shouldn't be watered this time of of year -- until it's time to convert it to an ice-skating rink.

Four Pittsfield firefighters -- Don Whalen, Dan McLaughlin, Blake McLaughlin and Matt Kudlate -- have been volunteering to turn the common into an ice rink. They've opened two fire hydrants on opposite ends so water freezes into an open space about 150 yards wide.

They started the effort at 3 p.m. on Thursday and resumed work at 10 a.m. Friday.

But their work -- and the ice -- isn't ready just yet.

"It's going to take a few more days," Dan McLaughlin said.

But when it is ready, Whalen said, "The kids are going to love it."

The firefighters stressed that anxious skaters and hockey players should stay off the rink until the ice is sturdy enough to support weight. Since the terrain is uneven, the water will be three feet deep in some places.

Whalen estimated it will take thousands of gallons to turn the terrain into a sturdy and level ice rink.

This is the first time that firefighters have frozen over the Common for an ice rink in five years.

"A bunch of us decided we wanted to go skating again," Kudlate said.


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