If you, like many other town residents, have a yearning for the quaint, New England pastime of ice skating at the local pond, you may be able to lace up your skates and glide out onto the ice of Mill Pond, located at the intersection of North River and Cherry Street.
According to Parks & Recreation Department Director Rick Maynard, this may be the week that the temperatures are finally low enough, for long enough, to allow the pond to be open for a few days of good, old-fashioned winter skating.
"We have to have five inches of ice to open the pond for safe skating," explained Maynard. "If it's a nice day, we could have 100 to 200 skaters out there at one time, so we have to be very cautious and make sure the ice is secure enough to hold everyone safely."
Maynard regularly consults with an ice scientist in New Hampshire about the conditions, temperature, and ice thickness of Mill Pond to ensure the safety of Guilford residents at the favorite winter spot.
"We were open one Thursday about two weeks ago and we had about 40 people come out and enjoy the pond, but besides that we haven't been able to safely open the pond for skating for the past two years," said Maynard, who is hopeful the recent chilly temps will hold out long enough over the next few days to sustain safe ice.
"It's a great spot and a great time, with the bonfires at night and the benches and picnic tables. It is a very beautiful site. It really is a shame that we can't open it up more often," said Maynard.
He added, "If temperatures stay below freezing, a half an inch to an inch of new ice can be made each night."
The thickness of the ice is measured in different locations throughout the skating area by way of a drill and a ruler. Maynard explained that black ice, the kind created from low temperatures alone without the addition of snow, is the best kind to skate on. In comparison, white ice occurs when there is snow present, or the ice keeps melting and re-freezing, which creates a less smooth surface for skaters, and is a little weaker.
"There has to be about six to seven inches of white ice before we can allow skaters onto the pond and only about five inches of black ice," Maynard said. "It's always better to be safe than sorry."
For now, he's keeping his fingers crossed that the pond will be open soon, complete with night lighting, skate guards, bonfires, and fun.
For more information or to check the status of the pond, call 203-453-8068 or visit www.guilfordparkandrec.com or the Guilford Parks & Recreation Department Facebook page.