Tag Archives: ice skating

A rejuvenated downtown Worcester – always in style!

The holidays are upon us!!!!     pics: R.T.


FRIDAY – Dec 2!

5 p.m. to 9 p.m.




🎵🎵 MUSIC!!!!!!!!



☕☕☕☕HOT COCOA!!!!!!!


FREE TO ALL! Yipee!!!!

Be there!

The Woo Holiday Festival – 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

On the Worcester Common, behind City Hall, 455 Main St.

Rose and Christmas balls

I write this every year and I’ll write it again! Free the Worcester Common Ice Oval

The usually almost-empty Worcester Ice Oval, on a weekend night. pic: R.T.

By Rosalie Tirella

Every year we rail against the Worcester Common Ice Oval – that is its skate rental fee ($100 cash if you don’t have a credit card; $3 per pair of skates PLUS $25 refundable rental fee per pair of skates) and admission price of 2 bucks a person, older than 6. It’s as if former Worcester City Manager Mike O’Brien – the Ice Oval was his brainchild after he solicited ZERO COMMUNITY INPUT – was saying to the mostly poor Latino families who live in the downtown area, a stone’s throw from the Ice Oval (in Piedmont and Main South): GO AWAY, YOU ARE NOT WANTED HERE. THIS PLACE IS FOR WHITE KIDS FROM OXFORD OR WHITE, COLLEGE STUDENTS FROM HOLY CROSS. There will be some free, special ice skating afternoons and nights for you, but that’s CHARITY, the City of Worcester making CHARITY CASES out of you! Only during these special times can you call the Worcester Common your own. And skate your little hearts out…

How soul-crushing!

How classist!

How illegal?!?

After all, the Ice Oval is built on our city common – public space belonging to us, THE PUBLIC. We don’t have to pay money to enter the nearby Worcester City Hall or to eat lunch on one of the benches behind Worcester City Hall. And let’s remember the history of this special space! The Worcester Common is COMMON GROUND where, for more than a couple of centuries, Worcesterites gathered to speak of what was deepest in their hearts: We want to be free!, We want the vote!, Bless our soldiers!, Hallow this ground!

The Worcester Common is a square of land in the hub (or what used to be the hub) of our town, then city, Worcester. It’s historic – dirt and stone upon which a few centuries ago Worcesterites heard abolitionists speak out against slavery, where Worcester rabble rousers marched and protested during the Vietnam War and where pamphlets and petitions are still shoved before the sometimes unsuspecting eyes of the uninitiated, the unaffiliated, the un-moved!

And so, sadly, it’s the tenor of the times – Today Worcester city fathers and mothers demand cold hard cash to do a pirouette on a hunk of ice behind our City Hall, speed skate on a gated, frozen space yards away from the monuments to men and women who were on FIRE years and years ago (and just this past summer!) when they preached against the evils of slavery … and homophobia …

Hot cocoa at the Ice Oval refreshment shack cost extra!

That so many great and historic ideas and ideals were birthed on the Worcester Common make no difference to our civic bean counters today; in 2016 you have to buy access to a piece of Worcester. It’s all about the dough rae me, and if you don’t have the dough rae me, forget about lacing up those skates! STAY OFF! STAY AWAY! A piece of your city is unavailable to you.

No wonder why former City Manager O’Brien shoved off and now lives in a Metro West town with about 15 Latinos and 10 poor people: Worcester community activists, neighborhood boosters, the folks at the grassroots said SHOVE OFF, Mike! GO AWAY! YOU DON’T GIVE VOICE TO THE TRUE WORCESTER SPIRIT. Not in words, mind you, but in stopping his agenda in its tracks. So it was Bye, bye, Mikey! See ya in the funny papers!

Time to shine a new light on the Ice Oval!

Remember this past Christmas-time when the Ice Oval was open to ALL and the City of Worcester made it free for the evening, complete with free music by WPS school kids, free hot cocoa and an abundance of good cheer (free, of course!)?

Why, there were hundreds of folks skating on our Ice Oval! A few thousand congregating in front of and in back of City Hall! It was a sight to behold! All those Worcester Public School chorus kids, children of the world, children of all colors and creeds, with round, smooth black, brown, latte and freckled faces … bundled up and singing to the heavens! On the Worcester Common Ice Oval the rainbow of colors shone so brightly! Black kids, Latino kids, white kids, many of them poor, holding their dads’ or moms’ hands as they skated in big circles on the WORCESTER Ice Oval to music! And the music pumping through the sound system gave them the notes on which to hang their dreams! For that one night! For that one magical night when downtown Worcester was actually bustling! VIBRANT. A TRUE REFLECTION of its populace!

And how much did it all cost?

Not a whole lot.

Yet, here go our city leaders, trying to lure everybody but the real Worcester to the Worcester Common Ice Oval. For fees, for $$ hot chocolate.

If skating on the Worcester Common Ice Oval didn’t cost money, they say, the experience wouldn’t have value.

Bull shit.

Let the poor families who live around the area make their own winter magic, city leaders seem to be saying. It’s all about keeping the coveted (white, middle class, millennial?) people in and the undesirables (poor, brown, black?) out. In a polite way, of course!

The Worcester Way!


YES! Sell the naming rights to the Ice Oval!

… Then use some of the money to purchase ice skates for kids/adults who cannot afford them. Put the new, donated skates in a large donation box to be used by Worcester folks who can’t pay the Ice Oval skate rental fees/do not own ice skates. Also, create free Ice Oval passes with the money. Let’s not deny ANY CHILD the chance to have some winter fun!

Great suggestion (selling the naming rights) from Worcester City Councilor at Large Konnie Lukes!!!

Childhood … lovely. Click on link below this photo to see one of my fave scenes from one of my fave movies!

– R. Tirella


Free the Ice Oval!

Yes this is our skating rink! Pretty cool looking

By Rosalie Tirella

We’re hoping Worcester City Manager Mike O’Brien’s Thanksgiving vacation has squeezed the Scrooge out of him/softened him around the edges some. We’re hoping when the Ice Oval opens to the public, it will open as a FREE SPACE (it is on our COMMON, after all!). We are hoping it will be a free, community space where the public, especially low-income families/homeless kids (and Wusta has plenty of  ’em!), can exercise and have fun without spending dough.

City Manager, you shut down the city’s (free) neighborhood swimming pools two years ago. The city has only two branch libraries, after most of them were shuttered and sold off years ago. Our main public library is closed to the public most Mondays and Sundays. Our public schools have no school libraries (the way each school building did when I attended the WPSchools). Our public schools’ arts and music programs have been decimated.

City kids and families have taken the hit long enough!

Now is the time to do the right thing! Open the ICE OVAL to all city kids and families!!!


See what we mean about carousels …

Wonderful little piece from The New Yorker …

See what we mean about the ephemeral beauty of carousels?  So lovely, so dreamy, as whimsical as a Rickie Lee Jones tune … .

Recently, a merry-go-round captured the country’s heart. Read The New Yorker story below to learn more … .

Again, we would have liked to have seen a carousel built behind Worcester City Hall instead of the Ice Oval. (Couldn’t the city have purchased some of the old merry-go-round horses from the now-defunct Whalom Park, in Lunenburg? I used to love going there as a kid!)

Several years ago, when city leaders were discussing plans for the Worcester Common re-make, InCity Times suggested a merry-go-round. I guess city leaders had their own plans … .

So, it’s ice skating at Elm Park, ice skating at City Hall, ice skating (we hope not!) at a big new rink that David Forsberg and pals want to build on the Worcester Public Library parking lot. All these freakin’ ice rinks/ovals leave us … frosted!

– Rosalie Tirella


By John Seabrook, The New Yorker



“Few pictures of Hurricane Sandy captured both the enormity of the disaster and the unquenchable spirit buried deep in the city’s core better than the image of Jane’s Carousel, the glass-enclosed merry-go-round on the waterfront near the Brooklyn Bridge, taken at the height of the storm. The photo shows the dark water lapping at the horses’ hooves, with the eerie blacked-out lower-Manhattan skyline in the background, and the festive riderless ponies twinkling merrily in the bright yellow light. Originally posted on Instagram and picked up by CNN, the picture was seen all around the world; at one point that night it was at the top of Twitter’s trends. … “

Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/10/janes-carousel-survives-sandy.html#ixzz2Auf7pibJ


City Manager Mike O’Brien and the Ice Oval fiasco

Ice_skating : People ice skating

By Rosalie Tirella

Drove into Providence, RI, today. What a beautiful little city! What a happening downtown! What a nice cosmopolitan vibe!

The ride into downtown Worcester a few hours later made me cringe: Not because of its looks (well, yeah, because of its looks compared to Providence’s) but TODAY, especially, because of the ICE OVAL FIASCO. And it is a fiasco!

You would think that the public outcry re: City Manager Mike O’Brien’s fool hardy decision to charge poor kids $2 to skate on the ice, $3 to rent skates, $ for hot cocoa and other refreshments would have stopped him cold – make him realize: HEY, there should be no admission fee! Everyone should skate for free! That’s the way the people of Worcester want it to be! I am not their king! I am their city manager – a bureaucrat – who serves at the pleasure of the Worcester City Council. A guy who takes his orders from city council, which takes its orders from Worcesterites.

But no!

A cheap skate, my-way-or-the-highway mentality rises from the depths of Mr. O’Brien’s hollow hollow soul. So even in the middle of a dead zone like our downtown, Worcester families need to pony up some serious bucks (if there are a lot of kids and the family is working class).

O’Brien is wrong to think any municipal give away is to admit to being hustled by the hoi polloi. He is putting the brakes on something even before it gets started. And right now we could really see something STARTING on our common.

The recent announcement that kids 10 and under get in free to skate does not make me feel better. More bull shit from O’Brien. We talk about how we want to reach our teens – make them feel part of the city. Well, if you are a poor teen forget about it.

Something to think about, CM Mike O’Brien: Did you know that every Christmas Toys for Tots has to beg for some donations, such as Christmas presents geared for tweens and teens? Seems like everyone wants to donate toys and fun stuff for little kids, but no one remembers the teens. You know which foster kids are hardest to place, CM O’Brien? Teens. Everyone wants a cute little kid. No one wants a cute big kid.

Thanks, City Manager Mike O’Brien, for sending out that same old heartless message to our young people. A few days ago, I saw a homeless teen (maybe 12 or 13??) at a local Price Chopper. He looked so forlorn. So lost. So hungry. We have lots of homeless teens here in our city.

Why make things harder?

What about the country’s obese/over weight kids? We’ve got ’em here in Worcester, all right. Wouldn’t it have been nice if our teens could have EXERCISED – skated – on the city’s ice rink for free. God knows kids need to start moving. City Manager Mike O’Brien, you could have helped make that happen.

And, after Providence, I have to think: YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! O’Brien is gonna charge kids and families money to come down to bring much needed life to this dump that we like to think is our center city/downtown? At this point, the city needs as many people as it can get to spend time downtown. To charge $$$ to skate in the middle of dumpsville is insane.

JUST INVITE EVERYONE for free, OK Mike? Why get anal with teens? Why get anal right before the holidays?

Bureaucrats never have vision.

Strong mayors do.

Skate behind Worcester City Hall for FREE! FREE!

By Rosalie Tirella

Classic Worcester screw-up move: We want to bring more people/life to the center of our downtown, a place crying out for people and life. We build a skating rink – a lovely skating rink – the meat in the middle of our urban shit sandwich.

Then what do we do? True to Worcester form, we decide to CHARGE kids/folks a $2 ADMISSION fee for coming to skate in our no-man’s land. Then there is the $ for popcorn and hot cocoa at the concession stand and maybe more money for special classes.  In short, $$ charged for spending time in Icky-Town (maybe soon to be Lucky Town, a la the Bruce Springsteen album – but for now Icky Town … .)


At this point, the City of Worcester should BE PAYING kids to come and skate on our Ice Oval – not charging them $$!

It gets worse. Let’s say you are a poor single mom from Main South, Green Island or Piedmont and it is winter (school) vacation and you want to take your three kids and their three pals to the cool new skating rink downtown. You may even take a twirl on the rink! Pretend you are an ice dancer! Guess what? Right off the bat you are $14 poorer! You are poor already! You do not have 14 bucks to blow. And of course, the kids will want to eat goodies. You do not have $25 or so to squander on goodies! The fun will add up. You decide you can’t go to the new downtown skating rink. The kids will have to do something else (hope it’s not sitting in front of a TV set!).

Our city kids have no neighborhood pools. They have no branch libraries (even poor cities like Springfield and Hartford have branch libraries). Our main public library is not even open 7 days a week! It is usually closed Mondays and Sundays (Sundays!!!). This one nice family-friendly thing happens – a skating rink behind City Hall! – and once again the doors are closed. Our inner-city kids/families locked out.

City Manager Mike O’Brien and his pals need to rethink this. We suggest making our new ice oval a free for all! Make it fee-free! FREE! FREE! FREE! FOR ALL! So we can have middle-class kids mixing with working-class kids, mixing with poor kids, mixing with maybe even homeless kids. Urban nirvana for me!

I repeat, at the moment the area looks so blighted the City of Worcester should be PAYING kids to come and skate! Let’s not be so fucking cheap and petty, Worcester! Let’s not keep even one city kid from having fun! So often we have nickled and dimed regular inner-city folks to death while paying our police officers $125,000 a year or our high school principals $110,000 a year (and their pals) big bucks. And their perks go on and on. You know why the Tornadoes flopped here? Ticket prices were too steep! They should have been priced so that working class folks – not middle class folks – would be able to attend the games. A la Brockton, MA. Brockton’s Can Am baseball team tix cost around $6. Worth it, I say. Especially for working stiffs who may not be able to take their families at $10 – $15 per (Tornadoes) ticket.

I grew up dirt poor. I hung out with very poor folks. Believe me, I know deprivation. I remember some pals:there were kids who were bringing in weekly payments of 25 cents to pay for a Worcester Boys Club Annual Membership of around $10/$20. Their families: a.  were just too poverty stricken to pay or b. too dysfunctional to save up the dough.

Let’s not take anything out on our kids – the city’s future!

Remember what the City of Worcester did at Union Station? The city charged entrepreneurs exorbitant rents on the spaces they were leasing for their restaurants/clubs and THE ELECTRICAL OUTLETS/SYSTEMS WEREN’T EVEN IN PLACE/READY TO GO!  Of course, the restaurant/blues club failed. We were demanding too much dough from these brave souls wanting to take a chance on a new Union Station.

Now here we are, with a brandy new ice oval, asking kids and families to be URBAN PIONEERS and spend some time in our urban shit sandwich but demanding THEY PAY US $$$!

What we do to poor Worcester families and kids is unforgivable.