In the last week of December of 2011 a few best friends outside Chicago decided they would make a hockey rink in their backyard. After four hours of trying to flood it with a garden hose they realized they would need a lot more water than they thought so they chose to illegally borrow the water from the local school fire hydrant.
Their parents, not knowing where they were getting the water from, gave them $350 to build the backyard rink. Not in their parents' budget was the 250 feet of fire hose they borrowed from a relative who worked for the local fire department so they could access the hydrant.
The boys had framed the rink with lumber and according to the Chicago Tribune they even fabricated a penalty box, not realizing that they might be in it a few days later. The custodian at Tinley Park High School discovered the fire hose was connected to a running fire hydrant on school property and called the police. Officers using ‘expert’ detective skills simply followed the hose through a wooded area and found the 91' by 43' partially frozen backyard ice rink.
Two of the boys. Tony Nelin and Timmy Ryan, age 20 were given citations for tampering with the fire hydrant and will have to pay for the water. They are being charged 130 dollars for the 26,000 gallons they illegally used to flood the rink. Nelian and Ryan will be able to keep the rink as it was built on private property and therefore it did not need a special building permit.
If you were a male Canadian child in the 50’s and 60’s the finest words you heard once a week during school was when one of the teachers would come into the classroom and yell,
“Okay boys- coats on, time to flood the rink!”
Trouble is the backyard rinks are now going the way of the dinosaur as kids are glued to electronics and shopping malls.
Of course the boys did wrong but too much of a big deal was made out of this whole thing. The janitor at $10 an hour called the police and waited for two hours for them to show up. The police then, using expert detective skills that a monkey might have easily done for free followed the hose to a 91 by 43 partially frozen backyard and probably stood around talking for 50 bucks an hour.
Later they pieced the story together, found the boys and yelled at them at the cost of another 200 dollars of labour. The kids then received the same fine as a corner drug dealer and of course the possibility of a building permit probably popped up in the conversation.
Nelin and Ryan were not sitting in a public park dealing drugs, and made an effort to do something for the neighbourhood. If the garden hose was not long enough maybe they should have used two garden hoses from different faucets, had more patience, or asked permission. Next time someone steals a pack of gum, maybe we should send in the Swat Team at a cost of 6.4 million dollars to stalk and locate the offending 4 year old. What a world we live in! To quote a Canadian friend of mine:
"Sometimes rationalized thinking is just Puck’in awful!"
Linda Seccaspina 2012
Dedicated to Mr. Bradford of Cowansville High School who made boys in my classe happy when rink flooding season came in season.
Group Photo: Chicago Tribune
Rink: Just someone's rink in Laval, Quebec
Cowansville, Quebec Hockey Team 1898 McCord Museum