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D.C. Gigs: Running The Show At City's Newest Ice Skating Rink

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The Canal Park Skate Rink could be where future Washington Capital's hockey stars get their start.
Jocelyn Frank
The Canal Park Skate Rink could be where future Washington Capital's hockey stars get their start.

Nancy Butler is the general manager at Canal Park ice skating rink in the Navy Yard neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It's an area of the city that used to be best known for the Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg (hyperlink http://www.dchousing.org/default.aspx?docid=311) low-income housing project and subsequent redevelopment effort. Among the many changes in the area include the brand new Canal Park ice rink that opened on Nov. 16, 2012.

Butler remembers those early days. "I felt like a construction worker, and here we are a month and a half later, and I'm general manager, so I'm very proud of myself," she says.

Butler was born in the District and grew up in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. She learned to skate at the Fort Dupont indoor rink at a time, she says, when everyone wanted to be like the award winning American figure skater Dorothy Hamill.

"My dad took me to the ice skating ring," he says. "He wouldn't get on the skates himself, but he would sit there as I would make it around."

These days, Butler finds herself again working hard on the ice, but in ways she never imagined when she was first gliding on two skates. She laughs as she talks about one of her most notable responsibilities — she gets to drive the Zamboni.

"I drive a Honda in real life, which only cost me a couple of thousand [dollars], but for my day job I get to drive a $140,000 Zamboni, bright red."

Each day, Butler works alongside a team of local D.C. youth. About 40 employees, most of them coming from low-income housing, help run the skate shop, take admission fees, and demonstrate to new skaters how to find balance and gracefulness on the ice.

Standing rink-side, music plays out over the loud speakers for the skater to enjoy. It's an accompaniment to the percussive sounds of ice skates on ice. Nancy Butler marvels at the many people who've come downtown to enjoy an afternoon of skating out in the sun.

The Canal Park skate rink is open Monday-Friday: 12 to 9 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday: 10 a.m. to 7p.m. Adult Admission - $8 Children (under 12)/Seniors (55+)/Military Admission - $7 Skate Rental - $3

[Music: "Working for the Weekend" by The Brown Derbies from We Deliver]

D.C. Gigs: Canal Park Ice Skating Rink


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