Outdoor ice skating to return to Saginaw - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Outdoor ice skating to return to Saginaw

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SAGINAW (WJRT) -

(12/13/12) - Outdoor ice skating is set to return to Saginaw.

For decades, thousands of people would come to Hoyt Park to ice skate, but in 2002, because of city budget cuts, the skating stopped.

Now, a community group and businesses have raised enough money to bring skating back.

The city started flooding the park on Tuesday, but it's taking a little more time than it used to.

"Winter of 2002 is the last time this park has been flooded," said Phil Karwatt, Saginaw city engineer.

But 10 years ago, it was a lot easier to flood the baseball fields at Hoyt Park. A pumping station would be shut down, but that can't be done anymore, so the water is slowly flooding the fields.

"We are trying to find different means to cover up the catch basins that are in the park to help that water back up and naturally create this ice skating area," Karwatt said.

And when that happens, ice skating will return to Hoyt Park.

In its heyday, thousands of people came to the park to ice skate. Florence Wrona Carter was one of them.

"We lived out here," she said.

Wrona Carter is the last surviving member of the speed skating Wrona sisters, who were all state champions. She hopes this will get more children interested in ice skating again.

"I think the kids are really missing something. When I was young, this was loaded with children, especially at Christmas time, you know, they would get their first pair of skates and be out there," she said.

The group 'Friends of Hoyt Park' has been raising money, first renovating the baseball fields, and then the warming house, which is now done and ready for use. One of the donors is the Dow Chemical Company.

"This is a project we found an awesome asset to showcase around the region, and it's just another one of those winter assets we don't have a lot of," said Jeff Martin of the Dow Chemical Company.

Larry Brethauer, of Friends of Hoyt Park, says the group is also calling on people to donate ice skates so everyone can have a chance to skate. He says they will get that chance soon.

"Probably be a couple of weeks before we can really get thick enough ice for people to skate on," he said.

Brethauer says a volunteer will do the maintenance on the ice to keep it in shape for ice skating.

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