Outside On A Sunny Winter Day

(from the Winter 2024 Issue of MacombNow Magazine)

By Jim Pershing 1961

On August 19, 1950, St. Clair Metropolitan Beach opened to the public, though the official dedication did not take place until June 23, 1951. This park, known today as Lake St. Clair Metropark, has also been named Metropolitan Beach and Metro Beach Metropark.

When it opened, the park offered very few recreational amenities. One could enjoy swimming in Lake St. Clair, picnicking and fishing. Other opportunities would soon follow.

During the winter of 1951-1952, ice skating was first made available at St. Clair Metropolitan Beach. An ice rink was constructed just west of the park office. This area is now occupied by the tot lot/playground and the tennis & pickleball courts. Recorded music was played and lighting was provided for nighttime skating. A warming shelter and food service was also available for the skaters. On one Sunday during first season, more than 2,200 people enjoyed the rink.

The above photo shows skaters on the skating rink when it was in front of the food bar in 1961. We imagine it must be pretty cold for the ice to be frozen, but with many open coats and the long shadows it appears to be a sunny winter day.

No one in the photo is identified; however, the man standing on the rink (to the right side) wearing the trench coat, without any skates, is John K. Sterling, Jr., the information officer of the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority at that time. Undoubtedly, he was there gathering information for a news story. Sterling had previously been a seasonal employee at St. Clair Metropolitan Beach.

Notice the man on the ice in the center of the photo behind the crowd pushing a stroller. The stroller has runners on the bottom, from a sled, so it can be used on the ice and in the snow. The covered seating area you see in the background on the right was razed in 1964 when the pool was built.

Since then ice skating has been located at several other areas of the park over the years including in front of the food bar, on the north marina boat basin and near the west playfield shelter. Weather permitting, ice skating has been available for the last few years in an area just south of the parking lot nearest the Nature Center; however, it no longer draws the huge crowds it once did.

Photo and story courtesy of Jim Pershing, retired Southern District Superintendent with the Huron Clinton Metroparks.

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