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The Quarton Lake Skate

(Originally posted on January 13, 2022)

Ahhh, the 80s… we look back now and wonder what in the world everyone was thinking. This could cover a broad range of topics, but I have a specific one in mind today – ice skating on a frozen lake.

For nine years when I was growing up, I lived in Michigan, and one of my strongest winter memories was an annual winter event called the Quarton Lake Skate. Yep, it was exactly how it sounds. Ice skating… on a lake.

You know, exactly what they tell you not to do in most places.

Not only was it done in 1985, but in Birmingham, Michigan, it was an event. I distinctly remember styrofoam cups of hot chocolate.


Here I am, displaying the ribbons I won (for what? I don’t remember) at the Quaton Lake Skate in 1985. (Yes, there were color pictures back then! This was the only one in all my pictures from that year in black and white, for whatever reason!)


Thinking back on it now, it’s mildly terrifying to think of how many people skated on a frozen lake all at the same time – it goes against common sense! When I googled “Quarton Lake Skate,” I was disappointed that I didn’t find any pictures or articles about the event of my childhood. What I found was a warning from a local police officer to stay off the ice when the lake was frozen over. How times have changed!

I was too young, and it was too long ago, for me to have any sense of how many people attended it, but I remember it as a big community event attended by a lot of people. In my mind, it was crowded.

Lots of people. Ice skating. ON A FROZEN LAKE.

What made me talk about ice skating today, you might ask? Well, last weekend I took my 9-year-old to her first ice skating lesson. She’d been wanting to take lessons for years, but thanks to COVID, she’s been waiting.

Her class comes with passes to free skate time for practice, so it looks like I’m going to be getting back out on the ice, too. Have I been ice skating since I was a kid skating on that frozen lake? Around that same time, I did also skate at an ice rink regularly. And there was one time in 2019, but besides that, I can’t think of any others.

This will be… interesting.

I used to be a decent ice skater when I was a kid. These days, I’ll be happy if I can manage to stay mostly upright. My daughter, now the age I was at the time of the Quarton Lake Skate, said she’d teach me everything she learned in class.

I’m just glad we’ll be at an ice rink, not a lake.

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