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Essex family embraces ice storm with backyard rink - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Essex family embraces ice storm with backyard rink

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ESSEX, Vt. -

As the lights come on in this backyard and the sun begins to set, some might think it's time to head inside and escape the frigid winter temperatures.

But folks in one Essex neighborhood are lacing up and taking to the ice. For years, the Yates have turned their family's backyard into a hockey rink for the community.

"I live right down the road right down there and it's fun to just walk down here with you stick and your gloves and your skates and just hop right on the ice," said eighth-grader Ryan Young.

Rick Yates says he started this tradition nine years ago for the kids because of a rink he enjoyed as a child.

"Well, it's something my parents had done a little bit, maybe not to the extent it is here. But I simply enjoy being out in the wintertime and it's good fun for the kids. Just a labor of love really," said Yates.

And getting the ice to look this good was no easy feat. Yates says he spends hours leveling the yard, laying down the base, building the sides and creating the ice.

But this year, he got a little help from Mother Nature. After Ice Storm 2013, much of the state was covered in a layer of the frozen stuff. Although it was a major nuisance for many, causing thousands of power outages, Yates says the storm was a huge bonus for his backyard rink.

"The ice storm then came and nature is perfect-- you can't mess with it. So nature makes the perfect surface and we've just built on top of the ice storm. Plus we can skate on the outside as well," said Yates.

For Yates, what's more important than the ice itself is who is skating on top of it. No matter the age or skill level, everyone is welcome to play.

"I don't play hockey, I'm more of a basketball player. But I like to come out here and spend time with my friends and just to get out and exercise," said eighth-grader Jordan Hines.

The Yates say, as parents, the time and money they've put into the rink is worth it if it keeps the kids off the couch.

"No, definitely, I think we would be inside playing video games, because there is really nothing else to do. There is no sledding around here. So this gets us outside and helps us exercise," said Young.

A family taking advantage of the cold weather to skate through the winter.

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