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Friday, February 3, 2023

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Friday Nights at The Rinx: A Multigenerational Pastime

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The Rinx, located at 660 Terry Road in Hauppauge, has occupied a spot in the hearts of many who grew up in central Suffolk, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s.

Sitting on 97 acres of land right off of Motor Parkway, this building has not only stood the test of time, but has become a known landmark for all.

Popular for housing the New York Islanders for select practices, this facility has also been occupied by the Police Athletic League and the Suffolk County High School League.

In addition to hockey, the rink itself is used for figure-skating,skating lessons, birthday parties, and, what some of us are most familiar with, open skate events.

Most popular among these events: the Friday Night Skate. From 8:15 p.m.-10:15 p.m., The Rinx hosts an event that has targeted a younger crowd for several decades. The lights turn off, the strobe lights turn on, and the most popular songs of the day roar through the center as dozens of middle schoolers from all the neighboring areas take to the ice.

“One of my friends started telling us about it one day during school,” said Jaiden Cabrera-Boles, a student in Connetquot School District. “It’s winter, so we never really hang out like we do in the summer so we all wanted to go. I’m happy I went. I had a lot of fun, I even met new people when we ate at the café.” 

In a world of screens and virtual reality, plenty of parents were eager to have their children meet at the Rinx to in-person socialize.

“They’re trying something new, but they’re trying it together and in person,” said Angela Giarraffa, a local mom who grew up in the Smithtown area. “It’s nice to know that they have a place to go, that we all used to go to as kids, where they can interact and hang out with one another in a controlled environment. They’re having fun and making the same kind of memories that we did as kids, which is really cool too.”

From a world without the Internet and cellphones to the current day, the pastime of going to The Rinx still puts a smile on faces of those who used to attend— both those who now regularly head back there in a new capacity, and those who don’t but are pleased Friday night skates still occur.

“Wow. I can’t believe they’re still doing this,” says Anthony DeLisio, 28, of Ronkonkoma. “I think of that place and instantly smile from going there as a kid on Friday nights and even on the weekends to skate. I’m really happy that that is still happening.”

In addition to the ice, The Rinx also offers a day camp and pre-school that also makes room for ice time. “I was happy with the day camp,” said Joanna Gattuso, of Farmingville. “They had them outside a lot with a full day’s worth of activities. My son loved it too, so that says a lot about the program.”

A public swimming pool is accessible during the summer, and reserved areas for picnics are available for those who may be interested. The park area is available to those who wish to enjoy, or perhaps you may want to wander off to finally find the hidden pond.

In a day and age where many of our longtime favorite meet-up spots all around us seem to be closing in rapid succession, don’t forget those special places that are still in operation, and seem keen on continuing to be for the foreseeable future.

Long live The Rinx!

Deana D. Boles
Deana D. Boleshttp://www.messengerpapers.com
Deana D. Boles joined The Messenger as a contributing reporter in February of 2022. Now a staff writer, she covers a wide variety of topics, including entertainment, politics, health and parental guidance - in addition to conducting food reviews of local restaurants as part of her weekly column, "Dining with Deana."