Tucked away in the center of one of the Jersey Shore’s most scenic summertime destinations sits a cold weather wonderland for skaters in Monmouth and Ocean counties.
The Avon Pond, located at the Volunteer Park in Avon, is set to embark on its sixth season of operation when the 60-foot-by120-foot open-air ice skating facility opens in mid- to late December.
“We have such great support from the town and local businesses,” Avon Pond Safety Facilitator John O’Malley said. “We’re all volunteers who help keep the rink in order, and our goal is to give back to the community.”
The Avon Pond organization is a charitable group whose philanthropic tendencies are not limited to providing patrons a source for outdoor pond hockey from Christmas to (as late as) St. Patrick’s Day.
The group also hosts fundraising games for such collectives as the Brick Stars Challenger Hockey Club, an ice hockey program for children and young adults with developmental disabilities, as well as the USA Warriors Hockey team, which provides sled and standing hockey programs for wounded and service disabled veterans.
Among other charitable events, the Avon Pond also supports the local hockey community by donating specialized jerseys for such events as April’s Shore Conference Hockey Coaches Association’s Senior All-Star Game, and it will sponsor the forthcoming APP All-Star Hockey Classic this Sunday in the same fashion.
“I’ve skated at the pond a lot over the years, and to see how much this organization has grown in such a short amount of time, where they can help support the local hockey community even further, is great,” said Point Boro captain Owen Herrington, who will be skating for the APP Blue Team, the Class A Central and A South all-stars. “Being able to skate on Sunday with the Avon Pond logo on our jerseys makes the game even more special.”
Herrington’s APP Blue teammate and St. Rose captain Ryan O’Malley was equally pleased to support an organization that he’s seen grow from the beginning.
“When we first started up, it was 10 guys putting a rink together in the middle of a beach town. It seemed like a pretty far-fetched idea. But at this point, skating there has become one of the most popular things for players in the area to do in the winter.”
“Anyone can come out and skate there, and it’s become a huge part of our hockey community and a big reason why guys are getting better, and why hockey in the Shore area is getting better.”
Wall Township captain Matt Swan, who will be skating for the APP White Team all-stars from the Class A North and B North divisions, hopes he and the 41 other players partaking in Sunday’s events can further inspire the next generation of Shore Conference stars.
“I’m thankful to the Avon Pond for supporting us, and I know we’re hoping to inspire the community the same way they have,” Swan said. “I hope the younger guys will come out and watch us and strive to play in the game in the years to come.”
The inaugural Asbury Park Press All-Star Hockey Classic would not be possible without the Avon Pond and accompanying sponsors, including Trinity Financial Sports & Entertainment Management, Beacon Awards & Signs of Middletown, the New Jersey Devils and Middletown Ice World.
For further information about the Avon Pond, including winter skate badges ($50), weekly schedule of operation, and directions to the rink please visit www.avonpond.org.
What: The inaugural APP All-Star Hockey Classic.
When: Sunday, Aug. 23, at 4 p.m. (Doors open at 2 p.m.)
Where: Middletown Ice World, 214 Harmony Road, Middletown.
Tickets: $10; will be available at Middletown Ice World on the day of the event.
Benefits: The charitable event event will feature 42 of the top skaters from Monmouth and Ocean counties and raise funds and support for the JBJ Soul Kitchen of Red Bank and Toms River. Full proceeds from a gift raffle highlighted by autographed memorabilia by NHL, NFL and MLB stars, as well as partial proceeds from tickets and sales of commemorative programs and T-shirts, will be delivered to the JBJ Soul Kitchen.
Stay with the Press and APP.com in the upcoming weeks for more information. If you are interested in getting involved in the inaugural Asbury Park Press Hockey Classic, contact hockey beat writer Chris Rotolo at firstname.lastname@example.org.