Goal: new boards

Volunteers raising funds for update at Ahmeek rink

Allouez Township website The Emil Aho Memorial Ice Rink has been part of the Allouez area for nearly four decades. In need of new boards, the Build the Boards Project is seeking donations to have the new boards installed by November 2024, in time for the rink’s 40th anniversary.

ALLOUEZ TOWNSHIP — Skating has been a part of the Copper Country since there was a Copper Country. It is still as popular today as it was in the 1870s. It is so popular, in fact, that backyard ice rinks with ice made from a garden hose are common throughout the four-county area.

Outdoor community ice rinks are also popular recreation places. For instance, Dodgeville has an outdoor, pavilion-style rink. In Hancock, there is the Laurn Grove outdoor rink, as is similar in Tapiola and many other communities.

Allouez Township is no different. The Emil Aho Memorial Ice Rink, or simply, the Ahmeek Rink, which is a popular place for skaters and hockey games. The rink was founded in 1984 and its facility and board systems were installed in 1992. According to the Keweenaw Area Community Foundation, the most recent updates were conducted in 2019 when board sheeting was received from the Calumet Colosseum following their board system upgrades. Unfortunately, these boards were not created for outdoor rink use, and have deteriorated due to weather conditions. A team of dedicated community volunteers has convened to address the need to build new boards and upgrade the area to allow for recreation and community use for years to come and has started its Build the Boards Project.

As the rink is primarily funded by donations and assistance from Allouez Township, KCF and a local volunteer group are working to fundraise to support this project, KCF says.

Ron “Ace” Laurie, manager of the rink, said the cost will total $97,000. The volunteer team has a ways to go.

“We’ve raised $50,000 so far,” Laurie said, “so, we’re about halfway there.”

Laurie said the goal is to finish the build by November 2024 in time for next winter’s skating season.

Laurie said several local businesses have been contributors to the fund, citing just a few examples.

“Sundae in the Park has run specials and donates a certain percent to the ice rink,” Laurie said. “The Drift Inn is doing a little special. The Keweenaw Community Foundation has done a lot.”

A lot of individuals are donating money, he said.

The facility is open daily during the winter to allow skaters to tie their skates, warm up, use restrooms, and enjoy a treat from the concession stand, says KCF. During peak season, it is open more than 60 hours per week for ice skating, and 30 hours per week for public hockey.


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