Anyone who drives along the 400 block of Kings Highway West during the peak of winter knows they are not hallucinating—there really is an ice skating rink in John Beckett's front yard.
Beckett and a friend, Jeff Fehr, have spent four hours each January for the past 11 years building a rink. At night, flood lights illuminate the yard for skaters to enjoy it. It only last a few weeks, but the memories of it last a lifetime, he says.
"It started with a small rink in the driveway and eventually grew into a rink that covers the entire front yard," Beckett said. "Jeff and I can build it in four hours and it takes over 8,000 gallons of water to fill."
Beckett's son, Carson, is a freshman at Haddonfield Memorial High School and plays on Team Comcast, a AAA youth ice hockey team, which is currently nationally ranked. Carson started playing hockey at age 4.
"I guess I would have a putting green in the back yard if my kids played golf," John Beckett said. All three of his children are avid ice skaters.
The temporary rink was the inspiration for a community service project in which kids get a chance to help other kids.
"Two years ago my neighbor, John Costanza called and asked me to come over," Beckett recalled. "Costanza told me about an idea he had that would introduce the sport of ice skating and hockey to youth who would normally not have an opportunity to learn to skate.
"We sat for hours and came up with a plan to work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties and introduce youth involved with their program to ice skating and hockey. After many hours of preparation, buying equipment, team jerseys and finding a rink to rent, we came up with a 10-week program that we run in May and June where players involved in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League teach first-time skaters the basics and eventually, the game of hockey."
Although the ice in his own rink is long melted by then, Beckett still promotes his love of hockey long after there's frost in the air.
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