The Larsen Rink at the Mike Eruzione Center is more than just a rink now. It is full-fledged indoor recreational facility whose potential has no bounds.
Thanks to a generous donation of a new floor by the Viking Pride Foundation, the rink â€“ or the summer recreation center as some are calling it â€“ will now be open for indoor activities in the off season.
Rink manager Dale Dunbar and Viking Foundation chairman Vinnie Crossman joined other guests last Thursday at an unveiling ceremony for the new floor. Among those in attendance were Judy Larsen Hanlon, daughter of â€œHuckâ€ Larsen, and Mike Eruzione, Olympic hockey captain.
â€œItâ€™s a very exciting addition to the town,â€ said Crossman. â€œThe town is short on recreational spaces and this just opens a brand new venue and new opportunity for kids. There are so many activities that you can do on this floor, from basketball to street hockey to roller blading.â€
Crossman said the town could use the facility for events such as graduation ceremonies. â€œWe can put chairs in here and fit 1,000 people, no problem.â€
The installation of the rink floor represents a new chapter of giving by the Viking Pride Foundation. â€œWe felt very strongly that this facility could be used by the schools and many children in the town.â€
Crossman credits Dunbar and Eruzione for originating the idea of converting the rink to a facility that could be used in non-ice skating months (May through August).
â€œThe opportunity originally really came from Mike Eruzione and Dale Dunbar who said we should really look at getting a floor in here for the summer months,â€ said Crossman. â€œDale asked is if the Foundation could help out and we said, â€œLetâ€™s try to do something thatâ€™s going to affect a lot of kids and we think this is a great opportunity to affect a good number of kids in the town.â€
Crossman also singled out Parks and Recreational Director Sean Driscoll and VPF board member Angelo Vigliotta for being instrumental in the indoor recreational center project.
Dunbar said it was â€œtremendousâ€ to have a large and spacious indoor facility for the townâ€™s use.
â€œThe goal always was to have this place be a 12-month facility,â€ said Dunbar. â€œBut it was challenging to do that with ice. But because of Viking Pride and their generosity, weâ€™re able to provide a true recreational center. My feeling from the beginning when Mike Eruzioneâ€™s name went on this building is that we have a ice rink and all the improvements are great â€“ the recreational center part of it was a vision to install a floor so the kids can enjoy it all summer long. Itâ€™s multi-purpose â€“ you can have soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, indoor graduations â€“ nothing can be rained out any more.â€
Eruzione has had a busy schedule with obligations to the National Celebrity Golf Tour, speaking engagements, and personal appearances, including the grand opening of Nick Varanoâ€™s new restaurant in Woburn. But he made it a priority to be on hand to view the new floor at the rink that bears his name and that of Larry Larsen.
â€œThis floor is going to give the facility a year-round usage instead of just during the hockey season,â€ said Eruzione. â€œNow the community can use the facility â€“ kids and adults. Itâ€™s going to be awesome. The Larsen family and I are excited about that.â€
Crossman said the Foundation will be hosting a â€œSummer Chillerâ€ fundraiser at the rink on Aug. 24 featuring the seven-piece band Guilty Pleasure.