The Heart of Nashua with Joan Stylianos: If ice skating's your passion, Nashua's got you covered

Single digits, an arctic blast and a windchill that makes it feel like it’s below zero in the Gate City are not what most of us expected this early in the winter season. But like true New Hampshirites, we deal with it, add a few more layers and get on with life.

Hey, my Nashua friends, it could be much, much worse. Consider the summit of Mt. Washington. The famous MW Observatory had recorded quite the numbers on Thursday, Dec. 28. At 11:08 a.m., the winds were howling at 68 mph, and the thermometer read minus 26. Factor in the extremely bitter windchill, and it would feel like 73 below zero way up there at 6,288 feet above sea level!

As I pen this column, most area youths are enjoying their school vacation, but hopefully the air becomes a bit more accommodating, so spending time outdoors around the snow and ice could be tolerated without fearing frostbite and other serious wintertime problems. But it appears that the Granite State is in for several more days of this frigid spell if the meteorologists are accurate.

While driving by Lyons Park near Marshall and Allds Streets today, I became sentimental and thought about skating there years ago. I am not sure my mother ever went with us, but I recall my father bringing me and my brothers a handful of times. I had a cute pair of white skates, and I recall lacing them up and feeling pretty awesome in these bladed boots of wonder. Neither Philip, Andy or I knew how to skate, but we had fun seeing the crowded outdoor public rink in action and trying to make our way across the glassy, slippery surface.

My father was very athletic and could skate backward. I remember wobbling, never gliding and eventually falling down. My little ankles would ache, and I would start shivering in the freezing temperatures as I watched in awe as other kids zoomed by landing jumps, twirling around and making the sport look so easy, which it is not.

I miss those childhood moments and the spirit of fraternity being around city residents relishing these activities. Public outdoor skating rinks still exist in Nashua, but maybe not viewed with the same fervor as decades ago when that was all we really had.

The Nashua Parks and Recreation Department lists three rinks across the city, and these include Jeff Morin Field at Roby Park at Spit Brook Road, Labine Park at Cleveland Street (for hockey only) and Four Corners at Sargent Ave. All three are currently open. By the way, no rental skates are provided.

Of course, ice skating availability is subject to current weather conditions. You can call Parks and Rec at 603-589-3370 for more information.

You can also go indoors when ice skating is your passion. The beautiful Conway Arena at Stadium Drive is considered one of the city’s and state’s true sporting gems. All ages and abilities are welcome at the year-round facility.

You can’t beat the public skate offered inside Conway Arena several times a week, with admission at $5 per skater and rental skates available for $4 a pair.

In addition, the state-of-the-art indoor skating facility offers learn-to-skate and learn-to-play-hockey programs.

For those looking to tone the body, ice skating is an excellent workout, according to Peter Zapalo, the director of sports science and medicine for U.S. Figure Skating. He told Vogue magazine online that the sport builds strong muscles, tones the core, and improves balance.

Ms. Stylianos is a Nashua native. Her column is published weekly. She can be reached at