The past few weekends have been bittersweet for me as I’ve spent a lot of time photographing events at the Paul Hruby Ice Arena as it prepares to close for a major year-long renovation. We’ve been rolling through lasts in the old barn that has been serving Oak Park in one form or other for the past 40+ years. We did an “Intermission” event that served as the last public skate and featured Blackhawk organist Frank Pellico and a host of Blackhawk Alumni. My own hockey team played their last league game as we took home the Hruby Cup as the last league champs in the original facility. The final ice show was the last event to run before it all starting coming down.
I shot all of these events except my own hockey game, but for good measure shot a Fenwick Girls Hockey game. The amazing thing was that regardless of the event, there was life and joy and exhilaration in all of them. The events around this old ice rink really celebrated the importance of a slab of ice to community life. I read a very erudite post on Puck Daddy from a Zamboni driver meditating on his role preparing and protecting a “transformational space”. I couldn’t agree more with his assessment. An ice arena is “a place of magic and mystery, outside the boundaries of ordinary society, where rituals turn children into adults and grownups are able to ignore the rules of their lives and simply play once more.” Amen.