Doors opened and about 400 people filed in Thursday night to the Town of Huntington’s new state-of-the-art ice skating facility.
Thursday marked the first time skates touched the ice on the new, $16 million, 43,000 square-foot addition to the Dix Hills ice rink. The new rink was built adjacent to the original rink, where there was once a parking lot. The expansion also included four locker rooms, a concession stand, two party rooms, a pro shop, a new rental booth, a weight training room and stadium seating for 447 spectators, Huntington Town Supervisor Frank Petrone said at the opening ceremony.
“We’re thrilled that we could do this, and we’re very, very happy that the programming will almost double,” Petrone said, referring to the town’s youth ice hockey and figure skating programs and lessons.
The seats were all but full as the crowd heard opening remarks from former New York Islanders great Bob Nystrom, and watched Olympic figure-skater Emily Hughes and more than 75 local youth perform. There were also refreshments in the lobby and music sung by the West Hollow Middle School Sweet 16 Chorus.
Nystrom said playing for the Islanders meant living on Long Island and raising his family there. He said his son grew up playing in rinks like the Dix Hills one, and that the expansion is an important opportunity for Long Island’s youth.
“We need to provide recreational opportunities for the young people," he said. "Of course, education is important but we also need to keep our youngsters physically fit.”
Carly Hausner, 10, of Dix Hills, said she has been skating for seven years, and she was excited to skate at the new facility on Thursday night.
“It’s a lot bigger, it’s a lot cleaner and nicer,” she said.
Sue Dalia, of Greenlawn, said she and her daughter Gabriella, who performed in the show, have been anticipating the opening of the new rink since Gabriella started skating at the original rink in March.
“It’s amazing,” Sue Dalia said. “I can’t believe how beautiful it is. It’s nice and warm.”
Also as a part of the opening ceremony, Ester Bivona, the town’s receiver of taxes, dedicated the 10-foot by 20-foot American flag hanging in a corner of the arena. Bivona’s son, Lt. Col. John C. Bivona Jr., brought the flag back from Iraq after his second deployment there and presented it to Petrone. The flag will now remain in the arena.
For more information on the ice rink, its programs and hours of operation, call 631-462-5883.