Two weeks ago, the crew at Nationwide Arena laid down ice, complete with the Columbus Blue Jackets logo. For a moment, you’d think the lockout had ended and the Blue Jackets would be skating again.
But the ice wasn’t for the boys in blue. From October 19-27, the Blue Jackets organization held “Ice Week,” eight days of activities to show its appreciation to Blue Jackets fans and the community at large for their support. All the activities during the week were free of charge.
Kicking off the festivities on the 19th was a skate exclusively for Blue Jackets season ticket holders, followed by “24 Hours of Hockey,” which was just as it sounds. From 8 p.m. Friday night to 8 p.m. Saturday night, there was a non-stop schedule of hockey games played at the rink, with the teams ranging from pee wee and youth hockey to adult leagues, sled hockey and hockey for those with developmental disabilities. No, the kids didn’t take the overnight shift – that was for the adult leagues.
The rest of the week consisted of hockey games and practices and hockey clinics run by USA Hockey. The clinics for 8-12 year olds taught hockey skills for each age level, and members of the Blue Jackets coaching staff were on hand to help. There were also public open skates and special skating sessions for military families, kids with life-threatening illnesses and various other charities in the city.
There may not be Blue Jackets on the ice at Nationwide Arena, but fans and hockey players of all ages felt them there in spirit.