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Ray Routhier

Portland Press Herald staff writer Ray Routhier will try anything. Once. During 20 years at the Press Herald he’s been equally attracted to stories that are unusually quirky and seemingly mundane. He’s taken rides on garbage trucks, sought out the mother of two rock stars, dug clams, raked blueberries, and spent time with the family of bedridden man who finds strength in music. Nothing too dangerous mind you, just adventurous enough to find the stories of real Mainers doing real cool things.

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Posted: February 13, 2017

Kid Review: It’s smooth skating at Thompson’s Point, but the tubing hill takes some courage

The amenities will be open for family fun most days of school vacation next week.

Written by: Ray Routhier
 Jessica Skwire Routhier and her daughter Dinah Routhier rest on the ice at The Rink at Thompson's Point Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Jessica Skwire Routhier and her daughter Dinah Routhier rest on the ice at The Rink at Thompson’s Point Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Having winter fun is easy, if you’re able to control the elements a little bit.

And that’s what the winter attractions at Thompson’s Point in Portland allowed my family and I to do on a recent Monday. We didn’t have to wait for fresh snow to go tubing. We didn’t have to check the area ponds to make sure they weren’t terribly rutted or covered with slush and snow.

Instead, with no regard for recent weather at all, we decided to try out The Rink at Thompson’s Point and a 24-foot-high man-made tubing slide known as “The Hill.” My daughters – Sophie, 13, and Dinah, 10 – were eager to skate outdoors on ice that was super smooth and free of all bumps. And they loved the idea of an ice slide that’s ready for tubing all the time. At least the idea of it, but more on that later.

Thompson’s Point is being redeveloped from an industrial area to a mix of retail, accommodation and entertainment uses. In summer, the end of the point that fronts the Fore River is a grassy lawn for concerts. But, in winter, it’s used for skating and sliding.

Sophie Routhier skates at The Rink at Thompson's Point Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Sophie Routhier skates at The Rink at Thompson’s Point Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

We went after school, arriving around 4 p.m. The first thing we noticed was the giant roof over the 10,000-square-foot ice rink, made from an old railroad train shed. So even if it snows or rains, you can skate. The rink was perfectly conditioned, as a Zamboni is used to resurface it every couple of hours. Be sure to check the daily schedule on the Thompson’s Point website to see when the two-hour skating sessions are and when the resurfacing breaks are as well. It would be a great place to go during school vacation week, which is next week, when it will be open morning through evenings with a couple exceptions. On Friday, Feb. 24, the skating rink will be open from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. only. The rink will be closed to skating sessions Feb. 25 as well, for a hockey event, but the tubing hill will be open all day.

The ticket booth and a “warming lounge” are housed in giant shipping containers. Wednesday through the weekend, a local vendor called Maker’s Mug is on site selling hot chocolate and coffee. There is also a yurt, open when the rink is open, to sit and and get warm. There is a bar in the yurt, but hours vary. Food vendors include Classic Sliders food truck, Thursday through Sunday, and Urban Sugar donuts, Friday to Sunday.

Sophie Routhier slides down the hill at The Rink at Thompson's Point Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Sophie Routhier slides down the hill at The Rink at Thompson’s Point
Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

There are benches where you can sit and lace up the skates or just rest. There are also public restrooms. The slide, built of metal and wood, has a staircase on the side and four ice-covered lanes heading straight down. Sophie, my wife, Jess, and I all loved the slide. But as for Dinah, well, I’ll let her tell it.

Here then is what each of my daughters thought about their time at Thompson’s Point:

SOPHIE

What was your favorite thing about Thompson’s Point?

I really liked the skating. The rink was really nice and smooth, and there was a gorgeous view of the sun as it was setting over the water. We were practically the only ones there, which was really nice.

What else did you do there?

I also went down the tubing hill, which was very frightening, but fun. It’s like a regular slide that they have at fairs and stuff, but it was covered in ice, and it was really steep, and there’s a part where you’re completely in the air.

What would you tell others about the tubing hill?

Don’t be afraid; it’s not as terrifying as it looks.

What else should people know about Thompson’s Point?

It can get really windy (it was on the day we went), so bring a lot of coats and stuff.

Would you go back again?

Oh, definitely, I like it a lot.


DINAH

What was your favorite thing about Thompson’s Point?

The ice skating, because I like to ice skate even if I’m not that good at it.

Was it easier for you at Thompson’s Point?

Yes, it wasn’t a pond, so it was not bumpy. And there were milk crates (stacked together) I could use to balance a little bit.

What else was there?

They have this huge ice hill you can slide down on a tube, and it’s really steep, so I didn’t go on it.

Do you think you might go on it another time?

When I’m older.


THE RINK AND THE HILL AT THOMPSON’S POINT

WHERE: 10 Thompson’s Point, Portland
WHEN: Generally open afternoons and evenings on weekdays and from morning through evening on weekends, but daily session schedules can vary, so check the calendar on the Thompson’s Point website.
HOW MUCH: $8 for skating for one session, usually two hours; $3 for one tube ride, or $10 for unlimited rides in one session; $18 for an all-day combo pass, skating and tubing. Skate rentals available.
INFO: Therinkatthompsonspoint.com

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