The Kiwanis Ice Arena in Saugerties broke all records for attendance and for revenues this past December. Veteran Saugerties parks and buildings superintendent Greg Chorvas couldn’t be more pleased.
“We’re going on our seventeenth year, and things are going great,” exulted Chorvas, who’s been in his town position since 1982. He still can’t get over the glory of the town’s ice arena — or its other sports facilities at nearby Cantine Park, for that matter.
“Just like with anything, the first few years were about gaining experience,” he said. “But by catering to everyone from three-and-four-year-olds and our youth hockey league to senior skating classes each week and being accommodating to all ages, we’ve really built this up over time.” The ice arena has even managed to embrace those with various handicaps, thanks to a grant from the New York Rangers several years ago.
Chorvas is still surprised when he hears there are people who haven’t yet heard of the olympic-sized ice rink. “We operate from the middle of August to the first week of April, with an off season during which we are available for off-ice events such as flea markets, fundraisers, parties, camps, expos, and so forth,” Chorvas said. “The arena is fully self-supporting, with revenues actually exceeding expenses.”
It all started in 1998 when the local Kiwanis Club, which also runs the Saugerties Garlic Festival each autumn, spearheaded fundraising to build an ice rink. That opened during the 1999/2000 season, and remained open-air until state senator John Bonacic helped secure state funding to “put the cover on,” as Chorvas puts it. The Kiwanis went on to purchase all the major icemaking equipment needed for the 197-foot-by-85-foot arena, including a Zamboni ice resurfacer. Most of the equipment came secondhand, but in pristine condition, from Jay Feinberg in Newburgh.
This year, Chorvas hopes to finally complete a new addition to the main arena, long planned as a home for new classrooms and a space for the local wrestling club, utilizing funds raised each year by the garlic festival and fundraisers by the ice arena’s many involved clubs and organizations.
“The wrestling club had most of the money together but were just short,” Chorvas said. “We’ll be able to commence work on that in April when the season ends.”
A quick search over the Kiwanis Ice Arena website shows heavy daily schedules for hockey leagues, figure skating camps, open skate sessions, birthday parties and various club activities. There’s an equal number of private times set aside, and visits any day reveal anything from a rink-full of skaters twirling to pop tunes to lone Olympic wannabes lost in reveries to either classical music or classic organ ice skating tunes. The place is a blast, from its locker rooms and pro shop to its strictly-business attitude towards sports and recreation.
The place has a dependable staff. “Last week we had six people on around the holidays, what with the pro shop, skate sharpeners, and other needs. Other times we’ll only have two — the Zamboni operator and some to sharpen skates,” Chorvas explained. “I have an extensive part-time call list I turn to, and the great Rob Kleemann overseeing all our scheduling and the arena itself.”
He paused, then sighed.
“You know, I’ve got a phenomenal staff,” the superintendent added. “Everyone, and I mean everyone, puts a lot of pride and dedication into what they do.”
Does Chorvas skate?
“I used to,” he answered. He broke an ankle sliding into home plate and a larger-than-usual catcher during a championship game several years back. “After that I had to stop. Plus I got older.”
He appreciates everything about his town’s ice arena, especially the role of the Kiwanis club in making it possible. “There’s no way we could ever have afforded this without them,” he said.
For more information on the Kiwanis Ice Arena in Saugerties, call 247-2590 or visit www.saugertiesicearena.com.