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Winter Club Keeps Cool in Mild New Canaan

NEW CANAAN, Conn. – The mild temperatures in New Canaan over the past three months did not deter Bruce Bartolo and the staff of the New Canaan Winter Club.

Even with a winter largely bereft of snow, Bartolo remained hard at work, maintaining the Winter Club’s outdoor rink. He uses a Zamboni to keep it was ready for youth hockey games, figure skating events and members who want to break out their skates and glide on the ice for a while.

“It’s probably the most participated winter I’ve ever seen,” said Bartolo, manager of the Winter Club for 36 years. “There’s more people here because the weather’s warmer. So there’s no cold to keep them off the ice, and there’s always ice.”

It may sound odd that mild temperatures are inviting to skaters. But parents are more apt to travel to the club off Frogtown Road when outdoor temperatures are more reasonable, said Polly Boeschenstein, chairwoman of the club’s membership committee.

“The warmer temperatures were more of a draw,” Boeschenstein said. “More and more people are taking advantage of the warm weather. Everything has been fantastic.”

Sheldon Bright and Jane Dioro, both of New Canaan, agreed. In addition to having their children participate in hockey programs, they also play women’s hockey at the club. “What could be better?” said Bright, sitting in the club’s lounge while watching her son Stanley, 7, improve his puck handling.

“On nights when the there’s a full moon out, it’s just magical,” Diorio said.

Bartolo also attributed the increased use of the club to more parents taking up hockey and skating with their kids and families staying in town during the holiday season. “In years past, it was everyone went skiing or went on vacation. There seemed to be a lot more staycations these days.”

The Winter Club was packed Friday night for the first evening of its season-ending figure skating celebration. It will continue Sunday. The club will likely close in mid-March as children head off for more warm weather activities.

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