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Memories of Ice Skating on Shevlin Pond

February 23, 2021

By: Wayne Smith

Wayne is a retired BPRD director of recreation services

Shevlin Park Ice Skating –   circa 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s

Ice skating at Shevlin Pond was one of those activities the Bend community loved to do.  The pond would naturally freeze and produce really hard ice to skate on, albeit, it did have cracks to avoid.  People used to come to the park and clear the ice of snow so they could skate, but when the park & recreation district became the caretaker of the pond, efforts were made to enhance the experience and make it a safer activity.

Making a place to skate

Prep would start after the ice was determined to be at least 6” thick. It needed to be that thick to support hundreds of people and the “old” tractor that had a sweeper on the front.  BPRD staff would also use shovels to help clear the snow.  The pond needed to stay clear of snow to be good ice for skating.  The district had a few pairs of old ice skates to loan out, but most people brought their own.  A warming fire was always going  and was a favorite place to gather around, stay warm  and socialize. Restrooms were inside Aspen Hall, which presented a little bit of an issue if the hall was hosting a private gathering. The pond was lighted and sometimes  owls would fly in and roost on the poles to watch all the activity.  Over the years the district made a few improvements, adding a skate shack to served hot cocoa and coffee, plus purchasing more skates to rent from the Inn  at Seventh Mountain and a closing ice rink in Boise.  The rink would open as soon as the ice was thick enough, November or early December and stay open into January. The recreation department hired staff to manage to activity and provide a safe environment. It was open every day for weeks.  Great fun and free.

Changing climate

Over the years the environment started to change and the ice skating season became shorter and shorter, going from being open weeks to only 2 days for the whole season.  The pond is one of the best examples of global warming in the last 30 years.  It doesn’t get cold enough and long enough to have a natural ice rink open.

Always an adventure

Preparation was always an adventure and on more than one occasion, the old heavy tractor did break through the ice, fortunately it was usually close to the edge and we could drive it out.  Eventually in was replaced with lighter riding lawn mowers with a sweeper attachment to clear the snow, prep was much easier with those machines.

Tumalo Creek is the water source for the pond and on occasion it would freeze from the bottom up forcing fresh water over the top of the pond and shutting down the skating until it would naturally refreeze.  What a mess!

So much fun

It was an annual team effort of all staff and the rewards were seen in the smiling faces of all the people that came out every night to skate.