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Band of dedicated devotees begin rolling out rink to put village on ice

Even before Old Man Winter arrives, a pocket of East Aurora will likely resemble a Currier & Ives print.

That would be the case in the upper Main Street business district, where the village will soon sport an National Hockey League-sized outdoor ice rink -- the one used in last January's Winter Classic in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The dream of Aurora Ice Association to have an ice rink began to take shape Tuesday morning, when workers began assembling and installing the piping that ultimately will freeze the ice for a $350,000 seasonal rink expected to open Nov. 1.

"We've had so many people drive by and give us the thumbs-up. There's a lot of excitement in the community," said John Cimperman, an association board member spearheading the outdoor rink.

"We have a great demand from hockey and figure skating organizations from all the Southtowns communities," said Cimperman, who also runs Cenergy Communications, an East Aurora marketing firm.

Since announcing plans to install the Ice Bowl rink that it recently purchased, Aurora Ice has moved swiftly on the project on land it owns along Riley Street, about half a block off Main Street.

The plan for the temporary rink -- which comes in the midst of the association's eight-year effort for village approval of a controversial two-sheet indoor rink -- calls for assembling it within seven to 10 days, complete with ice.

Today, the dasher boards are scheduled to go up. Later in the week, workers from Houston-based Ice Rink Events will begin ice preparations.

The rink will be basic, with no roof or locker rooms. But it will offer a few nearby benches and skate rentals. A recreational vehicle will serve as an office.

Bob Filighera of Hamburg has been retained as a full-time rink manager, and a Zamboni formerly used by the Dallas Stars is to arrive soon.

Despite its lack of amenities, Mayor Clark W. Crook describes the rink as a big deal for the village.

"I think the entire community is anxiously anticipating what this is going to look like and how this is going to work," he said Tuesday.

Economic spinoff is also being talked up, with the rink expected to operate through March.

Cimperman said the rink has attracted volunteers who aren't even involved with Aurora Ice.

"It's a great East Aurora story. You don't see that, that often in a community," he said.

The Ice Association has yet to decide what to charge the public.

The rink will be open from 3 to 10 p.m. weekdays and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m on weekends. Hockey groups looking to book ice time or others wanting to know how to rent the ice should correspond via e-mail to:

Prime time rink rental, between 4 and 10 p.m., will be $175 per hour.

e-mail: krobinson

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