Hockey rink built in Mortonites’ front yard

Nathan Domenighini

For four of the last five years, the Bill family of Morton spent their early winters constructing a miniature ice-skating rink in their front yard.

A steady mix of water and freezing temperatures have helped the Bill family create a childhood winter playground.

It is one of the furthest south homemade ice-skating rinks in the country ... similar to the one created at Ackerman Farms in previous years.

“It was kind of a brainstorm thing,” said Shaun Bill. He is a member of an organization that promotes the creation of personal ice-skating rinks on residential property.

And, for the duration of winter, the rink has been a constant source of recreation and exercise for their children, as well as a number of neighborhood children looking to join in the fun.

Shaun and his wife, Kimberly, may jokingly be at odds on the rink’s necessity each winter.

“Thus far, we haven’t irritated anyone (in the neighborhood),” Kimberly said.

But, the two can agree on one thing — their front yard rink keeps their children occupied. By the time they are done playing on the rink, the children are tired, quiet and ready for bed.

The family was out past dark Thursday night playing a friendly game of hockey. The rink is lighted by a spotlight that hangs above the rink. They even have advertisements on the inside of the bordering walls to create a more realistic hockey rink atmosphere.

“We’ve been skating since Christmas,” said Shaun.

Particularly this year, the rink has been easy to maintain due to consistently cold temperatures, he said.

“Until temperature reach above 40 degrees, we should have a pretty solid (ice rink),” Shaun said.

As the Winter Olympics have continued, it has also inspired their children to try their hands at the popular Winter Olympic event — curling.

Using milk jugs filled with water, they are able to have their own curling competitions.

Kimberly is sure to keep the children in check while they play. When they get too rough, she places them in the penalty box.

The Bills admit, what they have is far from ordinary. But, it has certainly proven to be a great way for the family to pass time during the cold winter months.

“You battle the elements,” Shaun said.