When M.J. "Jay" Brodie was city housing commissioner from 1977 to 1984, he took his wintertime lunch breaks at the Charles Center ice rink in the Inner Harbor.
"It was just fun," said Brodie, 78. "I do remember teaching a couple of young ladies how to Dutch Waltz once."
He and his wife, who passed away in 2002, skated and ice danced at the ice rinks at Northwest (now closed), Mount Pleasant and Patterson Park.
Baltimoreans will have a new place to hit the ice with the opening of a public rink at McKeldin Square on Nov. 21. The ice rink will be the centerpiece of the Waterfront Partnership's "It's a Waterfront Life" annual holiday attractions.
The new rink will bring ice skating back to the Inner Harbor for the first time in about a decade, though at a different location than its longtime home at Rash Field. Partnership officials still hope to bring a permanent rink back to Rash Field in the future, but a rink is leased at McKeldin Square for the next five years, according to Laurie Schwartz, president of Waterfront Partnership.
"We are thrilled and can feel the excitement among children especially throughout Baltimore. They can't wait to come down to the rink," Schwartz said. "Our objective is to add new affordable activities for families."
Baltimore has a long history of ice rinks in the city. The ice rink at Rash Field was created in 1988 as part of a winter promotional campaign called Baltimore On Ice, and the city hosted the U.S. Figure Skating Championships the following year. The rink stayed open seasonally until 1991, according to Tracy Baskerville, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts. The rink reopened in 1993, drawing from 30,000 to 45,000 people each season before it closed in 2002. With the help of sponsorships, the Office of Promotion & the Arts opened the Baltimore Ice Rink at Harbor Point seasonally from 2003 to 2005; that rink closed when no one agreed to operate it.
Schwartz said when the partnership announced the opening of the new rink, many Baltimoreans shared stories of memories from skating at Rash Field.
Peter Jackson, 28, of Bolton Hill, grew up in Baltimore playing ice hockey at local rinks Northwest, Patterson Park, Mount Pleasant and Rash Field. Everyone in the Jackson household owned ice skates and went to the rinks with friends and family.
"My dad would take metal chair frames from the house, remove the wicker seats, and bring them for us kids to push on the ice rink," Jackson said.
Now that he works on Pratt Street as an associate at Jones Lang LaSalle Real Estate, Jackson will have access to the ice rink this winter.
"I'm excited that the rink is coming to McKeldin," Jackson said. "It's good to have more options to get people out on the ice in general."