An idea that had been talked about in Morden for years came to fruition in December when a local man with a plow cleared a skating trail more than three and half kilometres long.
David Penner said he decided to use his time during a winter break from work to give back to his community, which has embraced the trail across Lake Minnewasta in a big way.
“They’re just ecstatic,” said Penner of the response.
“It’s a struggle when it’s cold, it’s difficult,” he said, adding that instead of seeing people cooped up inside, “I just want to see everybody get outdoors more.”
And hundreds have taken advantage of the opportunity, including many who have shared their adventures embracing the cold to the Morden Lake Skating Trail Facebook group.
Penner himself isn’t active on Facebook, so another community member, Henry Wiebe, stepped up to administer the page.
Wiebe said he’s seen hundreds of people come out to use the trail at times and has snapped photos of the fun.
On Sunday, they held a bonfire with marshmallow roast.
The community has an active hockey and figure skating community and a few other outdoor rinks people can skate on, but Wiebe said he has heard from several people in the area who would make the drive to Winnipeg to skate a trail outdoors.
“Why drive that hour and a half just to go skating when you can drive ten minutes and do the same thing,” he said.
Penner said he’s surprised, but pleased, at how popular the rink has become.
“The Facebook page – it’s literally exploded with comments and pictures of everybody enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors for what it is,” he said.
Penner also came across a used Zamboni on Kijiji that he’s using to maintain the ice. He paid for it initially, but was paid back by the association of members of Morden’s volunteer fire department, which takes care of another outdoor rink. Penner is also a member.
While this is the first year the trail has been made, it’s not likely to be the last.
Wiebe said there might be a backlash in Morden if it didn’t return, while Penner said he’s confident others would help make and maintain the trail if he isn’t able to in future years.