Some of Jessica Capito’s favorite childhood memories were made at the Long Barn Lodge Ice Rink.
She skated there as a child while vacationing with her family, and now that she is an adult and living nearby, she plans to spend a lot more time there this winter.
“When we were kids, we would start skating at 10 in the morning, take a break to play games in the old lodge, then skate some more until the rink closed,” she said. “We were exhausted, but it was so much fun.”
Abby Ward, 14, of Manteca, and her cousin, Kyle Stow, 13, of Waterford, agree about the fun. Their family has a vacation cabin at Leland Meadows.
“We’ve been here since 10 this morning,” Kyle said late Saturday afternoon, “and we have a couple more hours to go. I’m going to be a little sore from all the skating, but it’s worth it. It’s a lot of fun.”
They were among those attending the opening day of the 40th season of the ice rink, taking advantage of Saturday’s free lessons and hot dogs.
The rink is open for the season, from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays throughout the winter months.
Extended hours will be offered during holiday periods and on Monday holidays, said General Manager Debbie Sharp.
The ice rink and lodge are owned by Tuolumne County residents Greg Popovich and Ron Palhegyi, who bought it five years ago from Scott Richards. He had owned it since 1991.
The historic Long Barn Lodge was built in 1918 by rancher Warren Beal as a place where people driving across Sonora Pass could stop for food and lodging.
Motel units were added by Hank and Allie Hamilton, who owned the lodge from 1949 to 1968, and Herbert Berg built the skating rink in 1971.
The main lodge, which included a restaurant, main office and game room, burned to the ground in July 2002, but the ice rink escaped damage.
“We have brought our two kids here quite a few times over the last couple of years,” Rodney Fern, of Long Barn, said.
“We love the size of it,” his wife, Marny, added. “And it’s so quaint.”