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Ice rink cometh to city

August 16, 1997

By STEVEN T. DENNIS

Staff Writer

Winter came a little early for more than 2,000 people Friday afternoon at the opening of the $2.3 million Hagerstown Ice and Sports Complex.

Swarms of children flying across the ice experienced spills, chills and thrills and gave the city's newest attraction an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Specials including free skating packed the center after it opened at 2 p.m.

Hagerstown Olympic hopeful Emily Keller, 11, wowed an audience with a figure skating routine featuring a series of single jumps, spins and twirls. Keller said she's been waking up at 4:15 a.m. to go to the ice rink in Frederick, Md., where she practices for four hours a day. Keller said the new rink is just five minutes away.

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Keller said she liked the feel of the new rink.

"You just walk in and everything's here," she said.

Jennifer Bowlus, 7, of Hagerstown, said she enjoyed her first time ice skating and wouldn't mind taking lessons. She said if she wasn't at the rink she'd probably be watching Nickelodeon on television.

Her mother, Sue, said she was impressed that the prices were reasonable - $3.50 to skate, a couple dollars cheaper than Frederick.

"That's cheaper than going to the movies," she said.

"It's going to be a good family place," said Jessica Manning, 17, of Hagerstown.

"Kids who would be bumming around out on the street are in here ice skating," she said.

"There's not very much for kids to do," said Amy Findlay, 16, of Hagerstown. "That's why you always read in the newspaper about kids getting in trouble."

"There's really nowhere to go but here," said Chris Chaney, 17, who planned to play hockey Friday night.

Shannon Harris, 12, said her mother planned to take her to Frederick next week before finding out the Hagerstown rink was opening.

Harris and her friends said they now intended to make the ice rink their weekly hangout instead of the Starland roller-skating rink.

"I've been waiting for this for so long," Harris said.

"They got good nachos," said Amber Lam, 8, of Baltimore.

Lam was justifiably proud of herself. "It's my first time and I haven't even fell yet," she said.

There was one drawback, she said.

"I got frost bites," she said, grabbing at her knees. "It's freezing. At least it feels good in the summer."

"I gave you my word it would be open in August, and here it is," said Washington County Sports Foundation Executive Director Walter Dill. Dill said his next promise was that prices would stay low so kids and families could enjoy the rink.

"This facility belongs to the people in this area to come and enjoy," he said.

Dill said spaces in skating instruction programs and hockey leagues were filling up and said sales were brisk at the ice rink shop.

To register for skating programs call 301-766-9122 or from outside Maryland, call 1-888-ICE-N-FUN or 1-888-423-6386.

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