Ramsey Lake was packed with activity all weekend long with more than 1,500 spectators, participants and volunteers taking the ice to watch hockey games, participate in ice fishing, catch a hot air balloon ride and sample various food and beverage vendors at this weekend's Pond Hockey on the Rock Festival.
With 81 teams registered, players from all over Ontario and Quebec participated in ice play during the day and into the night.
Dave Duhaime and Dawson Reid were in the midst of their playoff games, this being their fifth year participating with their team “Hydro Boys”.
“It's well organized, a lot of fun and something to do in the city in the middle of winter,” said Duhaime
“The organizers work hard getting everything ready, it's for a good cause,” said Reid, “And we always end up playing the same team in the finals.”
In its seventh year, the hugely successful fundraiser benefits various local charities every year. This year Camp Quality and the Northern Ontario Families of Children with Cancer foundations will be the recipients.
Run entirely by over 80 volunteers, one of the event organizers, Barbara Nott was thrilled with the turnout and cause.
“The two organizations are remarkable and compliment each other very well,” said Nott, “We don't have our numbers in as yet, but we estimate around $20,000 will be donated back to these two causes.”
Every year the festival brings people across the city out to raise funds and increase community awareness and participation during the winter.
“Part of it is the fact that playing hockey on ice has always been something we've done as kids, and this is a really great way to bring people out to get active and participate in the winter,” said Nott, “Despite the cold, people are coming out. We usually see thousands out and with the Ramsey Lake Skating path right here, we see a lot of people unexpectedly dropping by to watch the games, have some food and there's a real sense of community, even in the winter, and of course the venue is phenomenal. “
With 10 natural ice rinks and over 14 team categories, players of all ages continue to hit the ice year after year.
Local Midget team coach, Troy Van Belle registered two teams of his players for the second consecutive year.
“We had Don Cherry plaid jerseys for one team, “The Cherry Pickers”, and tuxedo jerseys were for the “High Stick Society” team, we had a lot of fun, said Van Belle, “It's a great sense of community. Everyone's outside together and you get to meet a lot of new people.”
Despite Sunday's temperatures dropping to -30 C, all categories competed fiercely in the finals with a high spectator turnout.
12-year-old Tanner Beauchamp summed it up perfectly, “It's a lot of fun, but I can't feel my toes.”