Winter meant skating, ice and roller skating. The new pavilion in Ontario has taken the place of the old Ontario Community Hall for skating. The Ontario Community Hall was once used weekly for roller skating on Sunday afternoons throughout the winter months. How many people from area communities mixed it up when the late Fern and Douglas “Tuffy” Ferries spent their Sunday afternoons playing recorded music over a PA system in the Community Hall for roller skating on the hardwood maple floor? In the ‘50s and ‘60s, this Ontario couple, with the help of teenage girls, rented roller skates: clamp-on skates at 50 cents or shoe skates at 75 cents for an afternoon of skating. 

The mixer skating came to be part of the activity when one of them came over the PA system announcing a couple skate, a boy-ask-girl skate, a frequently ask boy to skate or a couple-only skate. 

On Sunday night once a month, the area churches’ young-people groups would meet to roller skate. With the passing of time and age, the roller skates were in use once or twice a year for a much younger skater at the annual Halloween party held in the community hall. 

Now in the coming weeks the new Ontario pavilion, which replaces the former community hall, will be ringing with laughter hopefully from new generations as they learn to try new balancing acts on ice skates! This new rink was installed thanks to the efforts of Noel and her husband Danny Koeller, a young couple living in the Ontario area helping community residents once again bringing an opportunity to skate into their exercise and enjoyment routine.

This couple remodeled a small coffee trailer into an ice cream trailer in the summer of 2023. It is to the south of the new community pavilion and equipped with freezer space and became known as Saddle Up Ice Cream, offering quality Cedar Crest ice cream for sale to area residents and tourists. Once our Wisconsin weather turned cold and ice cream was out of season, the trailer and Saddle Up were closed, waiting for the Christmas season and the opening of Driftless Evergreens tree lot in this space. Danny, who has full-time employment at Organic Valley, has been active buying Christmas trees for Down a Country Road near Cashton. Realizing Ontario has a need for a Christmas tree lot, Driftless Evergreen lot became part of the Saddle Up lot. 

On a buying trip for trees in a small northern Wisconsin town, he was intrigued to learn how a small town, much like Ontario, had a pavilion that was used as an ice-skating rink and enjoyed during the winter months by residents. The wheels soon got put into motion with a donation can being set up at the tree lot for a skating rink. A 40-by-70 snap frame with a liner from the Chicago area, having been in use for one year, was set as their goal for the village. 

Many people admired the 10 decorated Christmas trees sponsored and a Christmas decorating contest by 10 area business people who paid $100 dollar donation toward the rink. Trees for the contest were sold to each business at the Koellers’ cost. Private donations also were given to fund the new rink, with the Bank of Ontario giving a very generous donation.

With the village board’s approval, volunteers from the area have set the rink in place, and hopefully the ice will be ready for skaters in the coming week. 

Do you know of someone, child or adult, who has a pair of used ice skates that could either be borrowed or purchased for others to try their skills going around the rink? Moments of laughter are guaranteed as part of the appreciation and repayment! 

Questions in regard to skating the rink can be answered by Terri at the village office, telephone number 608-337-4381. If you have skates available for sale or to give away, I am willing to pass your information along. My name is Carolene Martalock, and you can call me at (608) 317-8840.