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Skating at the Donabella house has become a neighborhood tradition in the Oswego community. Photo submitted.

Donabella’s Backyard Ice Rink

Oswego family keeps its own ice rink, mostly used to play hockey

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

Since 2005 the Donabella family has been transforming their backyard at 130 West Cayuga St. in Oswego into a skating rink.

Each year, Fred and Lisa and their now adult sons Freddie, Anthony and Dominick, lay down a heavy tarp, secure boards into place along the sides to form walls and fill the 40-by-50-foot area with about 4,000 gallons water. After the ice builds up and the Donabellas resurface the rink, the ice may become as thick as six to eight inches.

“In 2005, the rink started as a Christmas gift with a manufactured kit that included plastic framing at nearly half the current size,” Dominick recalled. “Over the years, we have learned the tricks of the trade and moved on to using 2-by-10 framing wood as our base frame and an extremely durable white plastic liner. In 2014, we even excavated a portion of the yard to be able to expand the rink to its current size.”

The Donabellas fringe the space with temporary fencing to protect the house and their neighbors’ homes from risk of damage caused by flying pucks.

“Hockey is definitely the primary activity taking place on the rink,” Dominick said. “Two on two, three on three and shootouts are the biggest games that take place. At times, it is a more casual atmosphere with those just learning how to skate or shooting the puck around.”

The rink serves as a neighborhood focal point for casual get-togethers around a bonfire; however, “anyone who asks is welcomed,” Dominick said.
Family friends and the Donabellas’ sons help with rink maintenance, which includes clearing from the surface snowfall and debris such as fallen branches. The sons live near their family home. The Donabella’s first day of operating the rink this season was Jan. 6, unseasonably late compared with many previous years. Use of the rink is free; however, any help in maintenance is welcomed.

“This rink is important to our family because of the memories it has not only provided us, but all of our friends and family that come over to use it as well,” Dominick said. “As a hockey-crazed family growing up, it has been the hub for most of our learning and developing as hockey players. But more importantly, it is also a place where anyone can have fun. So many snow days, school nights, and weekends have been spent on our rink by many people. Some kids have even learned to skate on our rink. These are things we will always remember and are the reasons why we continue this tradition.”

To visit the rink, go to