RYE, N.Y. -- Two years ago, the winds and tides of Superstorm Sandy destroyed the boardwalk along Playland Amusement Park and blew the roof off its historic Ice Casino.
On Thursday, Oct. 30, County Executive Rob Astorino marked that dark second anniversary with bright news: After nearly $5 million in repairs -- including replacement of boilers destroyed by saltwater from Long Island Sound -- the popular ice skating rink has reopened. It took skilled craftsmen to piece together the high-vaulted roof with crisscrossing wooden beams to preserve the integrity of the 85-year-old art deco structure.
Completion of the project was welcome news for the Manhattanville Valiants' college hockey teams, which train and compete at Playland. For the past two hockey seasons, the nationally ranked men's and women's teams commuted to Stamford, Conn., for practice and games -- a daunting task whenever Interstate 95 was jammed due to accidents, traffic or storms.
Thousands of younger hockey players and figure skaters from various clubs and teams, including Rye High School, also were thrilled to resume ice time again this fall.
At Thursday's press conference, Astorino threw down a ceremonial puck on center ice for an "official" reopening of the Ice Casino. He was joined by Shane Coppola, chairman and chief executive of American Skating Entertainment Centers; Jon Strauss, president of Manhattanville College; and Mike Richter, former goaltender for the New York Rangers;
“Our Ice Casino at Playland is like a great athlete,” Astorino said. “When it gets knocked down, it gets up and comes back stronger than ever. ... Put on your skates. The Ice Casino's back!"
On the evening of Oct. 29 and into the morning of Oct, 30, 2012, Superstorm Sandy tore up the East Coast, including the county-owned Playland Park, leaving billions of dollars of damage in its wake.
As the new ice rink operator, American Skating of Elmsford will invest $640,000 into the building over the next 18 months. This money will rebuild and modernize the interior, upgrading the main lobby, floors, lighting, electronics, bathrooms and locker rooms.
Manhattanville's hockey teams are regular participants in the national playoffs. The women's team has qualified for eight NCAA appearances since 1999, and the men's team has qualified four times -- not to mention numerous ECAA league titles. “It’s wonderful for Manhattanville to get back on its ‘home ice’ at Playland,” Strauss said.
In addition to the RHS teams and booster club, other returnees include the Westchester Dragons/Mariners, Rye Rangers, New Rochelle Lightning, Hockey North America, Rye Figure Skating Club, Westchester Vipers, HVHL Mite League, Fordham Prep, Nates Euro Hockey, Rye Town Titans and Team Image.