Ice rink with fire pit, concession stand to open this month at Aspinwall Riverfront Park

| Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

There soon will be a new rink where skaters can hit the ice.

About 140 volunteers spent last weekend constructing an ice rink at Aspinwall Riverfront Park.

The rink will be open in several weeks, said Susan Crookston, an Aspinwall resident who has led the development of the park.

The 108- by-88-foot rink, which was made possible through a $10,000 donation by Ginny Merchant, could be open later this month, Crookston said.

Merchant, a Fox Chapel resident who is a friend of Crookston's and has volunteered for the park in the past, said her donation was made to help get the park closer to completion and allow people to use the site.

“It's a small part of the big picture,” Merchant said.

Once it is open, hours will be from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Skaters can use the rink at no cost and at their own risk.

A schedule will be made to allow times for experienced and novice skaters. The area has lighting. A placard will be placed along Freeport Road to indicate when the rink is open.

Crookston said the area will have a fire pit and benches, and they hope to serve hot chocolate and other concessions. Organizers also are looking for donations of skates so people who don't have them can use them for free at the site.

“It'll be a great place. You can sit and watch the river and skate,” Crookston said.

Rick Villani, head coach of Fox Chapel hockey, brought about 20 student and parents volunteers from his hockey teams to work on the rink during the weekend. He said he is happy to promote hockey and skating for local children.

“If they can go out and skate and do something physical, I am all for it,” Villani said.

The opportunity for his players to volunteer also was important, Villani said.

“You feel like you're a part of something,” Villani said. “That's what I wanted for them.”

Merchant said the park is exciting for the community, as shown by the number of volunteers who came out to help to build the rink.

“The joy it's bringing to everyone is just tremendous,” she said. “It brings a tear to your eye.”

Crookston said the rest of the park will remain off limits to visitors even while the rink is open. Organizers hope to have more of the park open later this year.

Tom McGee is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 1513, or

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