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Sun Prairie man builds backyard ice rink for his hockey-loving son

The Monona Terrace featured other pandemic projects on Saturday.
Published: Mar. 6, 2021 at 6:23 PM CST
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SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. (WMTV) - A Sun Prairie man says he’s fantasized about a backyard ice rink for several years, but it took a pandemic for him to finally build one.

Erik Ernst, a hockey fan, said he was inspired by “being stuck” at home and decided to unravel his plan. In early December, during a stretch of below-freezing temperatures, he bought lumber and plastic liner to create a 24 feet by 16 feet rink. Ernst, who doesn’t consider himself a “handy person,” explained, “We laid down the liner, filled it with water, crossed our fingers and, a week later, Jaxton was skating out here.”

Jaxton, his 8-year-old son, is a hockey player. That month, his youth league was closed, and the father-son duo couldn’t attend Badgers hockey games.

Erik’s pandemic project became a playground for Jaxton. It’s where he spent recess during virtual school.

“I think it’s pretty incredible,” Jaxton said. “I didn’t know he was actually going to do it this year, but it means a lot to me.”

“He’s the best dad I could ever have,” he added.

Erik and Jaxton submitted their backyard rink project to a video showcase called Madison Makes. The organizers at Monona Terrace premiered the show Saturday morning, featuring more than 40 makers from the Madison area. Their creative journeys ranged from learning how to cook and knit to inventing a trash can that takes itself out.

“People were finding a way to deal with what was going on in the world through things that they could control, perhaps, or devote attention to and create,” Heather Sabin, who’s on the production team, said. “It is kind of a way of the Madison [area] being resilient.”

With spring approaching and a backyard ice rink soon to melt, Ernst said, “I’ve already got plans for how we’re going to do it bigger and better next year.”

You can watch the full Madison Makes showcase here.

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