George's Pond has opened to the public at Hirsch Coliseum, bringing the opportunity to ice skate back to the area.
It's a welcome development that came with the news of the Mudbugs return to Shreveport, but what many people might not know is the story behind the rink's name.
It's in memory of George Cloutier, and the story goes back more than 10 years.
His father says the Mudbugs made a lasting impression on all of his boys, but especially George, who was his youngest.
"It was always, 'Hey, you want to go get up against the wall and we're going to shoot at you,' and George would say, 'Ok.' So without any pads or anything, he started playing goalie, and he got to about 6 or 7 and people started hearing about him," said Chuck.
As the story goes, George wasn't just good, he was really good. Teams from all over the region started asking for George to come play on the road.
"I was like, 'Ok. So at the age of 7 George hit the road," he said.
George played in Shreveport, Lafayette, and even Dallas. But then something tragically unexpected happened.
"He got to be pretty good, and then he passed away. It was pretty emotional, but there was a whole lot of people that came up and told me stories about him. You think you know your kid. Sometimes you don't, but I got to find out how good he was," said an emotional Chuck.
Hundreds showed to 12-year-old George's funeral, most wearing their favorite hockey jersey to honor his love for the game. Chuck says this rink that has meant so much is a constant reminder of the good times, no matter how painful it is.
"One of the things as a parent is, I don't even know how to say this, it's just, you know, walking through that door right there and looking down at that goal, and having him turn and look at me. But I know this is going to be fun," he said, fighting back tears.
Something truly amazing happened after the interview with Chuck. He started playing on the ice, and shooting pucks into the goals, and a smile crept onto his face. Though he wasn't playing with his son, the joy that hockey brought to George filled the whole stadium for those few minutes.
So as you're enjoying time with your family on the ice this weekend, remember number 34. That was George's number, and the ice on which you skate is George's Pond.
Hours for George's Pond are:
Friday: 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Saturday: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m./6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Sunday: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Admission is $8 for adults, and children 3 and under get in for free. There's a $4 rental fee.
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