MARQUETTE - Toward the end of the ice season at Lakeview Arena earlier this year, the Senior/Adult Skate session on Monday nights experienced a surge of participation.
Regular skater Mary DeMarse hopes that's a trend that keeps building for the skating season of 2012-2013.
The Monday night skate sessions resume this coming week (Oct. 8) and DeMarse hopes from the get-go that people come out to enjoy the fun of taking to the ice.
In this file photo taken in January Clyde Hecox, 66, of Marquette skates a few laps around the ice rink during adult skate at Lakeview Arena in Marquette. (Journal file photo)
Program coordinator Mary DeMarse, 64, of Marquette puts on her skates and laces them up as she gets ready to skate. (Journal file photo)
"Just so people know, we did have a lot of beginners who were just starting last year," she said. "And we have people who haven't skated in years who want to get back to doing it. This is perfect for them."
From 7:30 to 9:20 p.m. Mondays, the ice on the Olson Rink at the arena is set aside for adults - with an emphasis on seniors - to skate. It's free for Marquette residents (bring a picture ID) and just $2 for those age 50 and up from other communities or $3 for those ages 18-49 from outside Marquette.
Many of the regular participants are experienced and that can be a positive for those just starting out, DeMarse said.
"Anybody who has been skating for a while, when they see someone new, they will ask if help is needed," she said. "They can offer some simple advice that helps a lot."
That advice, she said, is designed to help the fledgling skaters feel at ease.
"We tell them 'bend your knees and relax your arms' and they find if they do that, skating is a lot easier," DeMarse said. "We realize that trying to relax isn't the easiest thing, but when your body is stiff, it makes it worse trying to skate."
Last year marked a return to the traditional Monday night slot after a year of the skating for seniors and other adults being moved to Fridays. That return to Mondays made all the difference, DeMarse said, especially as the season progressed.
"We started off (last October) with seven skaters and by the time the season ended, we had 37 on the final night," she said. "When people found out skating was back to Mondays, it made a huge difference. So many people told me how happy they were to be able to skate on Mondays again."
DeMarse, who has been skating for 55 years, said Monday night skating has been a Marquette tradition for at least 50 years.
"Everyone knew it was the night to skate," she said. "We had regulars who drove up from Ishpeming every Monday night. They always, always came, even if there was a snowstorm. As long as skating was open, they made the trip. It was a lot of fun. We'd skate with them and back then, some of them were 30 or 40 years older than me. The guys from Ishpeming, some were ice dancers.
"They've now passed on, that group, but Monday night skating brings back a lot of those memories."
People are invited to bring their own music to skate to on Mondays, DeMarse said.
"This year, there's a new sound system at the rink, I was told, so they'll have skate guards (people) there who will operate the music for us," she said. "It will be nice to have these guards there if there are questions or problems."
DeMarse said her favorite kind of skating music is the waltz, but she enjoys other styles as well.
"Last year, toward the end, we had people who hadn't skated in 20 or 30 years who wanted to get back to the ice," she said. "Some were guys and a lot of them were former hockey players who can't play anymore. The adult skating time really fulfills for them what they have been missing since they stopped being on the ice.
"Some people told me they were concerned the skating might get rough, but we make them realize it's not dangerous," DeMarse said. "We just want everyone to have fun."
The program, which is run in conjunction with the Marquette Senior Center, is one the center's coordinator is delighted to have return.
"The Marquette Senior Center is excited to kick off the 2012/13 Senior-Adult Skating season," said Jane Palmer, center coordinator. "We welcome skaters of all levels to come out and enjoy a night of fun on the ice. Time to get those skates out of storage, it's much like riding a bike. ... You never really forget how."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.