Today marks the opening of the Wheeling Park Memorial Ice Rink. The opening also signals the completion of a $560,000 upgrade to the facility with the installation of new chillers for ice making and other improvements to the electrical and plumbing systems. The upgrades were made possible by gifts from the J. B. Chambers Foundation, The Oglebay Foundation and The Wheeling Area Hockey Association (WAHA).
The facility was opened on December 26, 1959, providing the area with its first artificial ice rink and meeting the needs of an expanding youth sports movement in the valley. Since that opening, five generations of area families have made lifetime memories gliding across the ice. A roof was added to the facility in 1976 along with locker rooms, parent viewing area and upgraded concession facilities.
Last year more than 30,000 admissions were recorded for public skating. Over 700 youth hockey players participated in the WAHA programs and dozens more were active in the Wheeling Figure Skating Club and the Learn to Skate Program. Participation in WAHA has seen significant growth in the past years. In addition to the extensive use of the rink by these groups, the ice rink is also home to four high school teams, two middle school teams and Wheeling Jesuit University’s club team. During the 18 week season, the ice is scheduled for use nearly 19 hours each day (daily from 5:45 am to 12:30 am).
Eriks Janelsins, President of the Oglebay Foundation said, “The Wheeling Park Memorial Ice Rink is so much more than a she of frozen water. It is the memories of children as they cling to their parent’s hand and make their way around the rink on a brisk winter day, or the excitement a little hockey player feels being a part of a team, or the confidence a figure skater gains from mastering a new sequence. These are the investments in our youth and our valley that the J. B. Chambers Foundation, the Wheeling Area Hockey Association, and the Oglebay Foundation are thrilled to make. We can’t thank the Chambers Foundation or WAHA enough for their support.”
Through the generosity of the Oglebay Foundation and the Access to the Parks program free admission to pubic skating for Ohio County youth is available. Scholarships for youth participating in WAHA and the Wheeling Figure Skating Club are provided through the Yates Youth Sports Scholarship Fund. These programs enable all Ohio County children to have the ability to enjoy ice skating and sports at no cost to deserving families.
The improvements unveiled today are the first phase planned for the facility. Those interested in helping make further improvements possible may contact the Oglebay Foundation at 304-243-4166.