All Things Considered

In Warroad, a 2.5-mile skate path is connecting neighbors

A screen-captured image of the Riverbend Skate Path in Warroad, Minn.
A screen-captured image of a video of the Riverbend Skate Path in Warroad, Minn. It started with two neighbors connecting their hockey rinks on the Warroad River. Now it’s a 2.5-mile skate path maintained and enjoyed by an entire community.
Courtesy of Warroad Community Partners

With school in session virtually and more time spent at home, Jared Olafson’s and his neighbor’s kids thought it would be fun to connect their two ice rinks on the Warroad River. Their dads got to work — and then kept going.

They’ve now connected seven rinks and cleared even more ice, creating a skate path that spans 2.5 miles. They call it the Riverbend Skate Path.

“It’s been phenomenal. With this mild winter that we’ve been having, there’s people on it day and night,” Olafson said. “It’s getting to be where I’ll look out and there will be headlamps bobbing along at 10 o’clock at night.”

It’s a community effort. Neighbors, including high school students, started maintaining the path with plows attached to all-terrain vehicles. Then Polaris Industries in nearby Roseau donated a power broom, and Ironhide Equipment in Grand Forks, N.D., donated a Bobcat work machine with a second broom.

Olafson said those maintaining the path hope to procure a Zamboni so they can flood it with water and get a professional finish. Warroad Community Partners is helping them collect donations. Residents are also selling hot chocolate along the path on weekends to raise funds.

Olafson spoke with MPR News host Steven John. Click play on the audio player above to hear their conversation.

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