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Boston Common Frog Pond Set For the Holiday Season

Heights Staff

Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013

Updated: Thursday, December 12, 2013 02:12

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Courtesy of Mark Hunt

John Schaub, the general manager of the Frog Pond, has been working at the Boston Common for three years. Situated in the heart of Boston, the Boston Common Frog Pond is open this winter for another season full of holiday fun. Thousands of Bostonians, tourists, students, and skating enthusiasts fill the Frog Pond rink at the northern end of Boston Common each winter, as the reflecting pool of water in the summer is transformed into an ice skating rink in the winter.

Since its opening in 1996, the Frog Pond operates as a public and private skating rink and is run by a staff that maintains the rink so skaters can enjoy the outdoors in Boston Common.

“It’s a magical place to be during the winter season,” Schaub said.

Schaub’s job, managing the maintenance of an outdoor rink in the city of Boston, is no easy task. “I oversee the whole operation from rink maintenance, to staffing and the payroll,” Schaub said. While there are managers on duty that work shifts, Schaub oversees the quality of the ice.

“We get a lot of tourists and families that come and skate here,” Schaub said. According to Schaub, the Frog Pond caters to 500 people on the weekdays and will host over 2,000 skaters on the weekends.

For eager skaters looking to hit the ice, finding the right time to visit Boston Common is very important. “The weekdays are rather quiet,” Schaub said. “The weekends are chaos, in a good way. Typically, there can be very long lines of people getting in to skate on a Saturday afternoon.”
Last year’s unseasonably warm weather posed a problem to the outdoor ice rink. Closing twice before Christmas, the Pond found itself defenseless against the odd temperatures. This year, the Frog Pond staff is hoping for a more consistent environment.

“We have a lot of difficulties with snow, rain, and warmer weather,” Schaub said. “If it is 50 degrees and sunny, the ice loosens and can go down to full concrete areas, which presents a whole different scenario of problems.”
Due to the unpredictable New England weather, Schaub has to be ready at any moment to repair or alter the condition of the ice.

Schaub resurfaces the ice every hour, but the weather can suddenly cause difficulties to arise. Snow, rain, and hail, for example, can form a crust on the ice, which has to be shaved off in order to maintain the quality of the ice.

Accommodating the thousands of college students in Boston, the Frog Pond offers a special program known as College Nights. For its second year in a row, College Nights are being held every Tuesday night from 6 to 9 p.m. with discounted admission to college students who present a valid student ID.

“We started College Nights last year, and they have been really successful,” Schaub said. “It can be a fun way to go into the city on a Tuesday night, and we usually see about 300 to 400 students.”
In addition to College Nights, the Frog Pond hosts a number of different events throughout the holidays. Some of these events include a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and a New Year’s Eve ice skating performance.

“The skating shows are my favorite,” Schaub said.

The Frog Pond hosts various professional and semi-professional skaters on their outdoor rink. Coming up on New Year’s Eve, the Frog Pond will host its first ever Frog Pond Skating Spectacular. At 6 p.m. the Skating Club of Boston will present a free world-class figure skating ice show with 130 national and international figure skaters, synchronized skating, and Theatre on Ice teams. There will be a fireworks display following the ice show.

“It is really fun to watch these skaters,” Schaub said. “They are professionals who train their whole lives to skate, and it is amazing to watch them perform on a different level.”
In addition to the Skating Spectacular, the Frog Pond will be hosting an event in conjunction with the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships at the TD Garden in January. These championships will precede the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“Elite skaters will be coming to the Frog Pond during the National Championships in order to do some small performances at the Pond for entertainment,” Schaub said.

Besides the variety of events happening on the ice, skaters, families, tourists and students flock to The Frog Pond Cafe. The cafe runs year-round and offers individuals free WiFi and food items ranging from cheeseburgers to a cup of warm hot chocolate.

On what makes the Boston Common Frog Pond work, Schaub found that the answer is simple: “It’s all about the ice,” he said.

 

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