The Church of Skatin: Will Santa Barbara Ever Have an Ice Rink? Gosh Darn it!

It's coming on Christmas
They're cutting down trees
They're putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
~Joni Mitchell

The cold hit my nose and the tingling smell of ice made me feel eight years old. I love the smell of snow. I had not skated in a while and I was a little nervous about getting on the ice again. But I needed it bad. I was hating myself just before Christmas. I was feeling wrong in every way. A big blob of menopausal mud. I needed to feel like a kid. Like I was right in some way. Splendid and new. My body was feeling mangled and old.
Then I remembered something that I loved.
So like a veteran ravaged by war and sadness.
I found a church. My church of skatin.

When I was a kid in Santa Monica we had an excellent rink. An Olympic training rink. The same rink was used in the film Rocky. Adrian and Rocky have their first date at an ice rink. Every time I see the film I wait for the scene. I loved that rink. It had walls hand painted with a wintry scene in Central Park. The tog shop, snack bar and even the Zamboni's home, were illustrated facades. Like Disneyland's main street, the nostalgic renderings depicted a small towns rink side amusements. They celebrated a place and time near the beginning of the 1900's.

These paintings still exist as the 420 Broadway location is now home to the famous Fred Segal Store. Behind the racks of glittering be-sequined-gal-glamour-wear there are the paintings that illustrate one of the loveliest places I ever knew as a child.

On weekends my folks would drop me off at the rink early in the morning with a dollar or two and my warm skating "togs" which included mittens and a blue and yellow knit stocking cap with a long pom at the end of a long rope of yarn. It was a wondrous hat, the three foot long tassel would whip around my head and neck like a lasso as I skated. I would stay at the rink all day. With a dollar I could get four cups of coco from the vending machine. I learned to reinvent the watered down pale milk-less brown mixture with the Coffee Mate creamer at the condiment table. A lot of Coffee Mate would turn a vending machine cup of coco into a cup of creamy deliciousness.

I would stay at the rink and on the ice as long as I could. The fifteen-minute breaks for the Zambonie to resurface were an eternity. The Zamboni left the ice slick and shiny. I eventually taught myself to skate well enough that I could wear a skirt. Which meant I wasn't falling on my ass every five minutes and soaked by the end of the day. In my white worn out rental skates, gold tights and my plaid green and gold jumper, I was the essence of skating style. A rather pathetic style, but in those days I was creative and made do. I always wanted clothes that matched but I don't know, they just didn't. Except for my blue and grey Saint Monica's uniform with it's matching beanie.
But on skating days I tore my closet apart to come up with my best Peggy Flemming ensemble.

Now I have my very own skates. Rydel boots with Sheffield blades. All leather with a leather stacked heal. I got these incredibly beautiful skates at the Saint Vincent DePaul on Haley for $30! I always get great deals. Friends have deep resentments toward me over my thrift store juju. My first love was an antiques dealer and he helped me develop my eye. I know labels and makes. I know fabric and construction. And I think God likes me to get a good deal. My piece of heaven on earth is a great thrift store.

I Googled "Ice Rink" and found the Channel Islands rink in Oxnard. This is the closest rink to SB. There is a huge rink that is in the planning phase in Goleta. They have a website with photos of the plan and design. It looks like a magic ice palace. It has been a work in progress for over ten years. I would very much like for Ty Warner to finance this project. It would balance out the Ty Warner theme in SB. The Ty Warner Ice Center and the Ty Warner Sea Center:Ice and Sea.
It works right? It looks like an awesome project and great for the community. (Yes this is a shameful pitch) The land was thrown into the Big Box deal as a proviso. The folks developing the project have raised some part of the ten million they need to build the rink. I don't get it. This is a rich town who prides it self on community development.
So where's the rink? I want my rink!
Gosh darn it!

I did find a great class at the Channel Island rink in Oxnard I like the drive down the coast.
It's called the Lunch Bunch. It runs Mon-Wends- Fri 11am to 1pm. For $10.00 you get skate rental, rink time and a lesson. My teacher is Terry Tonius ( has been teaching for 40 years. He actually taught at my rink in Santa Monica! So on Wednesdays me and a congregation of gently-used not-so-young women gather on the ice. We have a range of experience in ice-skating. I start each session with "swizzles", forward and backward, one side and then the other. I am learning edges. There are eight. My progress is slow but steady. I feel strong after class. Sometimes my hamstrings feel like pulled pork. My back hurts, but I always have the convenience of lying on the ice. I walk straighter and I have a delicious secret. Ice-skating is like prayer in action. A prayer that says I still believe in my self.

After about four weeks of me coming home looking like sunbeams on a butter cream frosting cake and a lot of coaxing. My family came with me to the rink one Saturday. I knew, before they knew, the transformative power of the ice. My fiance had skated as a child in Maine and is an X-Olympic athlete; I knew this would get him. My nine-year stepson and twelve year old by birth, both had the same look on their faces when we entered the rink.

"It smells like snow Mom:this is so cool!"

When the "men" hit the ice it was awesome. The boys were a little shaky at first but their determination took over and they stuck to it.
First using the rail and then just dog paddling.
My fiance was a bouncing hockey skater in minutes and his usual pouty non-believer face was lifted. He was beaming. He just had a huge career shift and he had been lower than a short curb of late. And now he was beaming!
They were smiling and laughing and falling and wet.
They demanded coco at the Zamboni break.

This is one of the best times we have had as a family. I mean, what boy (man-boy or boy-boy) doesn't love hockey. The idea of hockey. It is quite simply good clean man-fun.

Now we are all hooked and the little vacation we can improvise with a trip to the rink is easy. We just hop in the car and go and play. Then we go to Chick-Filet, YUMMY! It is my dream day right now. A family skate and a fried chicken sandwich. It is an unusual slant on the traditional Church going, fried chicken dinner Sunday. But I think it serves the same purpose.
Right now this place is my church. It is where I go to say thank you to God for all that is good in me. Like a river I skate away on.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

We used to have a rink on the Mesa. That was the best. So we have the land for a rink and only need money? Wow! Isn't this like the non-profit capital of the world? Where's Oprah? She is from Chicago,they skate there right? Why haven't we heard more about this?Another Ice Rink would be great for me and my kids. I love the idea! And thanks for using the best quotes.
I love Joni Mitchell's River.

gotosantorini (anonymous profile)
March 21, 2009 at 11:57 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Wonderfully nostalgic, even for someone like me who only went ice skating once in my entire life. When I was about 10, I went with my sister--who's 7 years older than I-- and her boyfriend. My family came from Massachussetts the year I turned 8, so I never got to go ice skating there, but Pat even had her own skates. She and Jim (who was also from back east) held my elbows to get me started and then let me go. I just kept going around and around like the tortoise or a mechanical toy, at exactly the pace they started me on, grateful that people just stayed out of my path, since I could neither stop nor maneuver around any obstacles. I always wished that I could skate really well; I'd have loved it--except for the cold.

merry1 (anonymous profile)
March 23, 2009 at 4:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Again, you pull me along in your story. I am immediately intrigued and then I climb in for the ride along with you in this trip into the inner land of your feelings.

What is church anyway? It's not about the sermons or the announcements. It about finding a place where I can feel myself again. A place where my heart throbs with love and my soul taps to the tune of my own special music.

Sharing your soul music is a treat for which I am grateful.

psimple (anonymous profile)
March 23, 2009 at 7:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

SIGN ME UP!!! SB absolutely needs for a local ice rink.

The Girsch Park proposal began in 1997 and it seems the plan has been on-again, off-again ever since. I, for one, have made a contribution to support the initiative back in the day. I assume my donation is bundled in the $2 million plus currently in the Greater Santa Barbara Ice Skating Association (GSBISA) coffers. Founded in 2001, the GSBISA has a website where donations can be made and progress can be monitored. Only $6 million to go!!! I like the idea of Ty Warner or some other group or individual to bankroll the project.

That being said, IMHO, the future of the project seems to be questionable. This article indicates that this hotel has a green light and will use the space where the ice skating center is proposed.

Great read, the spitbath must be working =D

nomeansyes (anonymous profile)
March 23, 2009 at 12:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Thanks for the tip on the Noozhawk piece....

The rink in Oxnard is set to move to Camarillo and then we are really screwed.

The Noozhawk has some valuable insights.
I need to dig more.

I like Ty for the project because when the "Lovely" Wendy McCaw ( I mean this sarcastically)
- bailed out of the Sea Center project because she found out the Sea Center would have live animals.

It was Ty Warner who saved the day.
Ty Warner is an easy fit with a project that has so much to offer kids..all in need and at risk kids ,are big on the projects list of Out Reach.
A 501c3 Ice Rink is the best way to bring this about.
Goleta needs it. We all need it. There is really nothing out there that offers Community Actvity.
The YMCA is 10 miles away.
This could be so much for so many.

emenzies (Elizabeth Menzies)
March 24, 2009 at 9:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

SB does need an ice rink i've been to the ice in paradise site and the rink looks amazing.

also i've been to the rink in oxnard a few times. the stick and puck sessions are overprices, the ice is wavy in spots and the rinks seem to be kept dimly lit. it looks like a dungeon in there.

i guess growing up back east having 5 or 6 ice rinks within 20 minutes from my house kinda spoiled me for the rink out here. i've been on the ice since i was 4 and its what i most. Sure theres a few roller hockey rinks. the rink at earl warren is complete garbage and only open to people that join the league ( then theres the rink at UCSB. WOW the rink there is great. only one small problem it isn't ICE its a NHL rink with everything except that sheet of the good stuff, also it seems to be kept at a toasty 72+deg inside the rink area. not the best for playing hockey.

skating is great for kids and its a great activity. back home usually on friday nights all the middle school kids go to skate since they offer a late public skate that goes until 10:30 or so with strobe lights and music. starting a hockey league will be expensive and probably would put the roller league out of business. there needs to be interest from all age groups to form enough teams. + all the other obsticals.

anyways until some wealthy ice fanatic wakes up and donates $$ for the rink my ice skates stay in the corner of my room and the roller blades stay in my hockey bag.

PS. its ZAMBONI no 'e'
also playing hockey will put a stop to sunday morning church since thats when most games get played for the youngins 5:40 am practices are also a treat.

sbmkfif (anonymous profile)
March 25, 2009 at 2:50 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Ty Warner is a GREAT idea for this project, the outreach possibilities for kids are great. Even Oprah would love this.
So how do we get their attention?
Is Ty Warner still in SB?
Ty Warner owns the Biltmore right?
The Ty Warner Ice Center has a dandy ring to it. And just think of the Beanie Baby possibilities..Tinker Bell in Ice skates!
I think an ice rink would be the greatest thing for SB and Goleta. It is a good old fashioned clean sport. The dim lights and pop music at the public sessions,ah the memories. I think I held hands with a girl for the first time at a friday night skating session.Thanks E. You shine the light so often on what is important. Rock on Missy Spit Bath! I came here the first time because the name..WOW...I had to see...but now I come because it is really fun to read what is in your head and in your heart.

gotosantorini (anonymous profile)
March 26, 2009 at 11:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The Ty Warner Skate Center or The Ty Warner Ice Palace or The Ty Warner Chalet...Beanie Babies On Ice!
I love this idea.
Sb had a rink when I was growing up I think it was owned by the Attilion family (sp).
I have been to Oxnard and the rink there is OK.
There is NOTHING for ICE SKATERS on the Central Coast.
I would love to give this to my kids.
It is great all year round.The plan looks like it could benefit the schools as well. Just an all around great sport for kids. Hockey is a great team sport.
Then my kids would know why I say.."It ain't hockey."
Nothing is like it.
I think this is a cool idea (no pun) it needs to happen!
Thanks for not giving up, Tenacious E!

filmhead (anonymous profile)
March 27, 2009 at 12:24 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Wow, I was just Googling my old skating instructor Terry Tonius and found this article. Seems like the writer shares my love of skating, right down to the smell of the ice. I used to skate at Culver Ice Rink in Culver City, CA back in the early 1970s and Terry was my teacher for private lessons. I loved him and of course had a giant crush on him. He was the best: patient and always encouraging. I don't think I could have learned as much from anyone else. Will be travelling down the coast this summer and may just check out this rink. I haven't skated in years but this may be a sign that I need to get back on the ice. After all, if skating is a religion, shouldn't we believe in miracles?

Hey, I still have my Reidel boots with the Sheffield blades, per Terry's advice!

bsirchia (anonymous profile)
June 8, 2009 at 2:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Terry is my teacher!!! We love him! He taught at my first rink in Santa Monica!!!!! Even that crussy little rink in Oxnard is great!!!! Just imagine is we got a pretty one right here in our own back yard!

emenzies (Elizabeth Menzies)
March 5, 2010 at 7:35 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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