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Skating rink makes debut outside Atlas Park

Most Queens residents were cursing the ice left over by the holiday blizzard, but some in Middle Village paid money last week to step on the frozen surface made by Kevin McCabe.

He is the owner of the Aviator Queens Community Ice Rink on the corner of Cooper Avenue and the 81st Street entrance to Atlas Park.

And according to McCabe, it is the only rink of its kind in the borough.

“It’s very nice — people like it,” McCabe said about the Dec. 29 opening day´╗┐. “We had a pretty good crowd.”

The ice isn’t as large as a regulation-sized hockey rink, but is still larger than New York’s most famous skating destination in Manhattan.

“Most people we spoke to were surprised how big it was,” McCabe said. “It’s a little bigger than the rink at Rockefeller Center.”

The Middle Village rink can accommodate up to 240 people, and the size is perfect for families who are looking for fun holiday activities.

McCabe said he wanted to bring the rink to Middle Village because of the strong sense of community he felt in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“I thought it would be a good location,” he said. “There’s a lot of families and a lot of kids.”

In fact, McCabe was surprised he was the first to think of the idea.

“I never understood why someone hadn’t done it earlier,” he said.

For those who have never skated before, McCabe said that a former Olympic skater gives group lessons Saturday mornings.

But other skaters, like 8-year-old Nicholas Cusita, needed no instruction, according to his shivering mother, who watched him glide around the rink.

“He loves it. We’ve been here for two hours and he doesn’t want to leave,” Carmen Cusita of Ridgewood said. “We were here yesterday, too.”

But Cusita noted that the rink has more benefits than simply entertaining her son. It provides a fun activity that does not require families to travel outside the neighborhood.

“It was a good idea,” she said. “We don’t have to go to the city to do something like this.”

The outdoor rink will leave along with the winter weather, when McCabe will pack it back up in hopes of returning again next year.

“We hope to be back,” he said. “The equipment that we’ve arranged is certainly usable for a number of years. We just felt that this is a great neighborhood and we’ll see how it goes.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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