The official ribbon cutting for the new Leaside rink was done the right way on Oct. 5, with the future in mind.
Four-year-old Jake Lambe, representing the Leaside Hockey Association, six-year-old Emilia Calabrese, representing the Leaside Skating Club, and five-year-old Alexandra Batalion, representing the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association together cut the ribbon and then each went for a lap or two making them the first three skaters on the new ice surface.
“These three children symbolize what today is all about,” said arena board chair Ray White.
“They’ll be skating and playing hockey on this new rink for many years to come; they and their teammates will be developing new skills, learning sportsmanship, forging friendships and making memories that will last a lifetime. That’s why we’re all here today.”
The opening day program continued with on-ice presentations from each of the three user groups, the LHA, LSC and TLGHA, followed by a public skate when hundreds of people took the opportunity to skate on the new ice for the first time.
Among the 500 people on hand were Premier Kathleen Wynne, MP John Carmichael and Councillor John Parker. Each spoke during the on-ice opening ceremonies emceed by radio talk show host John Oakley, a Leasider. Councillor Parker emphasised that the new arena was completed “on time and on budget”.
White noted during his remarks that the original rink opened on Oct. 6, 1952 with a Blue and White exhibition game by the Toronto Maple Leafs and their Pittsburgh farm team.
At least one person who was at Leaside Gardens for opening day in 1952 was back 61 years later: Leaside resident Pat Poole and her husband Bill said the new rink was “absolutely beautiful!”
White also noted two additional events planned as part of the arena opening activities.
On Friday, Nov. 8 at 1 p.m. the arena board will host a ceremony to rededicate the memorial plaque to the 17 servicemen from the Town of Leaside killed during World War II to whom Leaside Gardens is a memorial.
And later, once the donor recognition wall is completed, a donor thank you reception will be held in the William Lea Room for all those who helped turn the dream of a second rink into reality.