MIDCOAST — Record cold temperatures hit the entire Midcoast – and all of Maine – last week, falling below zero most nights and driving many to seek the comfort of a warm fire and some hot cocoa.

While many Midcoasters were bundled up inside, volunteers and employees were outside preparing ice rinks for some great skating. In contrast to last year, where the temperature barely fell below freezing in late December, the subzero air has led to solid ice in most places.

But in Bath, Goddard’s Pond on High Street is still closed, despite the deep freeze.

Steve Balboni, director of Bath Parks and Recreation Department, said that while the cold has helped, the early snow actually made opening the popular skating spot harder.

“We’re still working on Goddard’s Pond. It’s much easier … when we have a cold snap before the snow,” he said.

The pond, located on the corner of High and Marshall streets, is the city’s long-standing ice rink. Covering 80,000 square feet and equipped with lights and a small warming hut that serves concessions, the variable water depth leads to difficulty freezing it.

“It fluctuates from 6 inches in depth to two and a half feet in depth,” said Balboni. “It takes a long time for the deeper end to freeze with snow on top of it.”

The issue gets compounded by crews having difficulty removing snow when the water underneath isn’t frozen.

“We can’t put equipment on Goddard’s Pond where it’s 6 inches of slush,” said Balboni.

“Well you can, but it doesn’t work well!”

Bath’s Parks and Recreation Department cleared snow and ice off of Goddard’s pond in order to facilitate its opening. Staff photo by Chris Chase

There’s good news, however, especially for ice enthusiasts on the north end of the city.

Bath Parks and Recreation has opened up a new rink at Legion Field on Congress Avenue for the first time ever, situated right on top of the baseball field.

“We wanted to find an alternative that would freeze quickly while we wait to prepare for Goddard’s,” said Balboni.

“This is something to get up quickly to get people out skating.”

For the first time ever you can skate the bases at Bath’s Legion Field, recently transformed into a skating rink. Staff photo by Chris Chase

Up in Damariscotta, the Damariscotta River Association’s ice rink, on Upper Main Street, is also already open.

“The rink is open, and the ice is OK,” said Matt Filler, a volunteer who has managed the rink for years.

He added that spots aren’t perfect for skating due to some of the rain and snow in previous days, and it’s so cold they’re having trouble making smooth ice.

The rink was created using a kit that makes an artificial pond, and the DRA typically uses a small zamboni-like device to create a smooth surface for skating. It uses a cloth for even water distribution.

“Being so cold, it will just freeze to the ice,” said Filler.

Open rinks are in big contrast to last year. Many were closed for long period of times due to unseasonably warm temperatures.

Now, it’s smooth sailing. Well, skating.

“We’re off to a good start. If it warms up a little bit, we can keep putting water down and smoothing down the surface,” said Filler.

In Brunswick, skaters braved the record-low temperatures on the Town Mall after the rink opened soon after Christmas Day.

Both the Mall location and Lishness Park were hit with a blast of water to facilitate skating.

Plenty of skating options while you wait for Goddard’s Pond to open.

Balboni is hopeful there will be skating there soon.

“We’re down there clearing it, so hopefully we can start building some ice back on Goddard’s,” he said.