Joelle Forte has been skating at the Town of Oyster Bay Ice Skating Center almost every day since she was 4 years old.
So on Saturday, as she performed for a cheering crowd of more than 300 spectators, Forte felt like she was right where she belonged.
“This is my home away from home,” said Forte, a member of Team USA Figure Skating. “I love it here.”
The 26-year-old Merrick native was one of about 60 Long Island skaters to perform on Saturday at the 3rd annual Town of Oyster Bay Holiday on Ice show in Bethpage.
The show featured skaters ranging from toddlers to adults skating in group and solo performances to holiday music. Blades flashed across the smooth ice as the performers twirled and spun to holiday classics for the adoring crowd.
“The best part of this is there’s no judging,” said Andrew Rothstein, the director of operations for the skating center. “It’s all about the kids. All the kids are winners.”
The show originated as a way for students of the Oyster Bay Ice Skating School to show off their skating skills, and has grown bigger every year. This year featured a skating Santa Claus, performances from the Oyster Bay senior choral group The Golden Tones, and a pee-wee hockey match between the Town of Oyster Bay Future Rangers skaters dressed as reindeer and elves.
“I thought it was very good,” said Don Miller, 43, of Centereach, whose son performed in the show. “Everyone sees what these kids are doing and all the hard work that goes into it.”
All attendees were asked to bring two non-perishable food items to be donated to the Island Harvest food bank. Guests were also encouraged to fill out holiday cards to be sent to troops overseas through the American Red Cross “Holiday Mail for Heroes” program.
“The amount of hard work and perseverance that these young people put into each performance is overwhelming,” said Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto. “Madison Square Garden has nothing on Oyster Bay.”