It’s not unusual to see drivers or pedestrians or bicyclists traveling down a street. But ice skaters? On a town’s busy thoroughfare?
That’s what will happen on Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. when the borough of Etna holds its annual Winter Street Skate on Butler Street.
The borough held the first street skate in 2017. The idea was conceived during an Etna Economic Development Corp. meeting, says Etna borough manager Mary Ellen Ramage.
“We are a Live Well Allegheny Community, which is about being healthy and encouraging residents to exercise and be well, and we were trying to provide stuff to do in the winter,” she says. “What can we do outside that would also get people to visit our businesses?”
The event had to take a pause in 2020 due to the pandemic but has been back every year since.
The street skate doesn’t require ice or even cold weather. Participants skate on a 40-by-32-foot synthetic ice rink rented from All Year Sports Galaxy, based in Wheeling, W. Va. It sets up the rink on a closed block of Butler Street between Bridge and Freeport streets.
“We get little children who may have never put skates on. It’s a good place and size to try out skating,” says Ramage. There is equipment that looks “like walkers that kids can hold on to and learn to skate.”
Skates are also available for those who don’t have them. Or you can bring your own and have them sharpened as well. It’s all free of charge.
The street skate isn’t the only attraction of the day; there is also Etna itself. “We have a lot of businesses that will be open on Sunday when they normally aren’t, so it’s good for them and also encourages people to do things outside,” Ramage says. Among those businesses are Rear End Gastropub & Garage, which will provide hot chocolate, Pollak’s Candies and Cop Out Pierogies. The Etna Volunteer Fire Department will serve up s’mores.
There will also be music, lights and a machine producing fake snow.
Before the skate, from 10 a.m. to noon, glass artist Sarah Cohen will host a free art workshop at the Pop-up Workshop, 343 Butler St. Cohen will work with participants on creating glass mosaic sculptures in the shape of fish, which will eventually be installed at Etna EcoPark in the spring. “All ages and abilities are welcome” to participate in the community art project, Ramage says.
A sense of community will be on display as well. “It’s open to everyone. People will see businesses and our revitalization, with our green streets and our streetscape” that collect stormwater.
She adds that it can be hard for communities to do events like this, but Etna gets help from residents, “who have a real sense of volunteerism,” and its organizations.
“It’s wonderful to work in a community where so many are helping to support activities and initiatives. It’s not just government — We wouldn’t be able to do it [alone]. Our nonprofits are just wonderful.”
Karen is a copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but she's currently on strike. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.