WESTFIELD, NJ – A tented ice rink at Gumbert Park opened for business earlier this week and is slated to remain until March 1 under the town’s agreement with Union Sports Arena.

The arena began hosting hockey practices there earlier in the week and held its first public skate at the Westfield Rink on Thursday, where families could be seen skating at the tented rink, which had been placed on basketball courts in the municipal park.

Westfield crossing guard Christa Gerdes said she had crossed a hockey team of about 20 players from Cranford across Chestnut Street earlier in the day and youths arriving for the free skate appeared to be having fun.

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“This is so new that we don’t have much to say,” said Gerdes, who moved to Westfield in 1964 and recalled Chestnut Street before nearby condominiums and shops had been built. “We’re just getting our sea legs.”

Union Sports Arena manager Marty Anderson was on hand Thursday afternoon as Westfield public works employees cleared leaves from the park area and families enjoyed the first free skate.

The session appeared to be going off without a hitch, Anderson said, as children laced up their skates and others enjoyed the 17,000-square-foot rink.

The arena’s agreement with the town allows for the “quietest commercial chiller unit available” to cool the ice. The unit could not be heard above leaf blowers, which town workers were using to clear nearby areas of the park.

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A Zamboni waited at the ready, some parking spots were marked off as handicapped accessible, storage lockers had been placed in the park and a sign on the roadway instructed visitors to park on a lot just off the westbound side of North Avenue.

An opening ceremony is set for Sunday beginning at 1:30 p.m. with live music, an official ribbon cutting and a figure skating demonstration, Mayor Shelley Brindle announced earlier in the week.

The New Jersey Devils mascot will be on hand along with former Devils captain Bruce Driver for autographs and photos, and there will be public skating from 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. with discounts on admission and skate rentals, Brindle said.

Hours

Friday

Public Session 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Saturday

Learn to Skate 2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.
Public Session 3 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Family Hockey 4:40 p.m.– 5:40 p.m.
Family Hockey 7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Sunday

Adult Open Hockey 8 p.m. – 9:30 a.m.
Public Session 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Cost

Price of Admission: $9
Price of Rental $5 (Hockey or figure skate)

The schedule is subject to change. Call 908-687-8610 to confirm session times. Skaters may also visit the rink's website for more information and updated schedules.

Email Staff Writer Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net; Follow him on Twitter: @MattKadosh