The ice rink at Canton Recreational Pavilion in Watertown, N.Y., has gotten so popular that the recreation department has had to hire “skateguard” supervisors to keep order during open skate hours.
Recreation director John S. Taillon attributes the increased use to the department’s decision to purchase rental skates a few years ago. As the ice gets more crowded, concerns for safety and the need to enforce rules has increased, as well. “It is extremely busy, especially on the ice,” Taillon said. “We feel we want to keep a safe and fun atmosphere for people that come here.”
Similar to the role of lifeguards at the public pool during the summer months, the skateguards will be equipped with whistles and identifiable uniforms and patrol the ice looking for safety issues. And like many lifeguard programs, the recreation department is looking to tap its local population of high school students to fill the roles.
“The kind of kids we are looking for are the same kind of kids we are looking for to be lifeguards,” Taillon said. “You want them to be self-motivators and assertive and dependable so they are here when they are assigned to be here, things like that.”
The department is enlisting the help of the local boys and girls hockey coaches to help identify additional workers, anticipating a bump in usage during the winter break. “The holiday season is very busy,” Taillon said. “When there is no school, we have skating and open hockey every day.”