Warming Hearts with a Sheet of Ice

It's not a mirage. That is an ice hockey rink in the front yard.


Anyone who drives along the 400 block of Kings Highway West in Haddonfield during the peak of winter knows they are not hallucinating—there really is an ice skating rink in John Beckett's front yard.

Beckett, a former Cinnaminson resident, and a friend, Jeff Fehr, have spent four hours each January for the past 11 years building a rink. At night, flood lights illuminate the yard for skaters to enjoy it. It only last a few weeks, but the memories of it last a lifetime, he says.

"It started with a small rink in the driveway and eventually grew into a rink that covers the entire front yard," Beckett said. "Jeff and I can build it in four hours and it takes over 8,000 gallons of water to fill."

Beckett's son, Carson, is a freshman at Haddonfield Memorial High School and plays on Team Comcast, a AAA youth ice hockey team, which is currently nationally ranked. Carson started playing hockey at age 4.

"I guess I would have a putting green in the back yard if my kids played golf," John Beckett said. All three of his children are avid ice skaters.

The temporary rink was the inspiration for a community service project in which kids get a chance to help other kids.

"Two years ago my neighbor, John Costanza called and asked me to come over," Beckett recalled. "Costanza told me about an idea he had that would introduce the sport of ice skating and hockey to youth who would normally not have an opportunity to learn to skate.

"We sat for hours and came up with a plan to work with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties and introduce youth involved with their program to ice skating and hockey. After many hours of preparation, buying equipment, team jerseys and finding a rink to rent, we came up with a 10-week program that we run in May and June where players involved in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League teach first-time skaters the basics and eventually, the game of hockey."

Although the ice in his own rink is long melted by then, Beckett still promotes his love of hockey long after there's frost in the air.

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John February 02, 2013 at 04:17 PM
Oh, I wonder did they have a permit to build that rink....Just curious, we can give them free water from the floods....enjoy the rink....
Radiohead February 02, 2013 at 04:46 PM
That is really awesome!!! John was always a good guy from a great family. His Dad was my first coach years ago. Great idea and must be lots if fun.
Ric February 03, 2013 at 05:38 PM
Mark, did someone appoint you chief censor? If everyone said what you like, Patch would be very boring. I do not see John taking issue with your words although he easily could. Respect him just like he respects you. If you do not like what John says then do not follow him. Since I cannot stand the post that say "Oh yummy, I can't wait to eat there" I do not read anything by that person. Try it, you'll like it.
FbS February 03, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Pretty cool. I like the way he engineered the rink and use of the perimeter walls of the rink. Great job, John!


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