Olivia Peterson, who has skated with Disney on Ice for years, learned how to skate and first appeared at an ice show years ago at the Meadville Area Recreation Complex as a member of the Meadville Figure Skating Club.
The ice show, which has occurred annually at the end of March for almost four decades, has been a tradition at the MARC when club members would lace their skates and take to the ice to showcase their abilities. This year, however, the 16 members of the club won’t have that opportunity.
This year’s ice show has been canceled due to lack of funds, according to Helen McCullough, president of the club.
Though club members have been frugal, the fact that ice skating is such an expensive sport hasn’t helped. Membership fees are $360 a year.
Membership has dropped from the approximately 100 members when the club first started in 1976 to only 16 today. Club Treasurer Stacie Hiott said that 25 members are needed for the club to break even financially.
McCullough cited several reasons for the decline in membership. She said when Crawford Central School District changed its schedule (the time students are dismissed), it meant fewer students could attend the learn-to-skate program at the MARC because of time conflicts.
The learn-to-skate program used to be a feeder program for the club, but that hasn’t happened recently and membership is down.
For now, the club is concentrating on recruiting new members while raising funds to pay the bills. Plans are being made for a car wash and a guest bartending night to help raise funds. Donations and sponsors also are being sought.
Hiott said the club owes the MARC $2,900 in overdue ice time bills. Ice time is $195 an hour, and the total ice time bill is $13,000 annually, she said.
The two coaches the club employs cost about $300 a year, Hiott said. Coaches are Chanelle Lucas, who used to skate with Disney on Ice, and Shea Grimaldi.
“The coaches do a marvelous job,” McCullough said. “You couldn’t ask for better coaches.”
Donna Lang, who started the club in 1976 alongside Eileen Curtin, said the club is more than just ice skating. She said it has allowed skaters to perfect their skills and be happy for others as they progress in their ability. Ice skating is when you compete with yourself to do better, she said.
Lang said the club used to bring in guest skaters for the ice shows for many years when she was involved. It not only added to the entertainment value but also gave the skaters some new ideas and techniques to study.
In recent years, though, the ice show has spotlighted just Meadville Figure Skating Club members.
She said the club thrived for at least 20 years, and she still remembers with great fondness watching little girls practice their routines to “It’s a Small World” one year. It happened one year after practice was over and just reminded her that “this was what it was all about.”
Hiott, who moved to the area in 2009, immediately took her three girls to the MARC for the ice skating program.
“One fell in love with it,” Hiott said, which is why she and others are looking forward to helping raise funds and membership so that next year the tradition of an ice show in March at the MARC can be renewed and more people can see why ice skating is such a fun sport.
You can help
Donations to the Meadville Figure Skating Club in order to help an ice show return to the Meadville Area Recreation Complex in 2015 may be sent to P.O. Box 1397, Meadville, Pa. 16335; left in the club’s box at the MARC or by visiting meadvillefsc.com.