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ROCKLAND – It’s a New England rite of passage to strap on a helmet and lace up the ice skates when the temperatures drop, something Brian Magner was teaching his 3-year-old daughter Thursday afternoon.

“We’re going to bring our pusher,” he told Lulu as he helped her put on her pink training skates and caged helmet.

A Rockland resident, Magner said this was his daughter’s second time on the ice. The week before, they took another a trip and she stayed on the ice for a couple of  minutes with her dad, he said. 

“I just wanted to give her a positive experience,” he said as they both got ready to step onto the ice at the Rockland Ice Rink for Thursday morning’s open skating time.

It’s the time of year when  people hit the rinks to ice skate. Towns across the South Shore offer outdoor and indoor skating areas, but indoor ones aren’t weather-dependent and many offer free or cheap public skating times throughout the week.

Rockland Ice Rink offers free public skating from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday, and free hockey time from noon to 2 p.m. on Monday and Friday.

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Brian Magner said making skating fun is important, especially with young kids.

“Hockey is not a very comfortable experience,” Magner said, between the cold, the tight skates and the heavy masks.

But Magner managed to take Lulu out on the ice, as she held onto a red pusher bar, and the two skated across the rink together. When he brought Lulu toward the gate minutes later, she protested – she wanted to do one more lap on the ice.

Elsewhere at the rink during free skating time Thursday, Pembroke resident Madison Reid, 22, and Hanson resident Jodee Savery, 23, were skating together. 

Reid said she hadn’t skated for about five years and the first time back on the rink can be tough.

“Nothing’s really frozen this year,” she said, making it harder for skaters to find places to skate outside on ponds or icy bogs.

Savery said she skates every year just for fun, and said she finds something freeing in gliding across the ice.

Her friend agreed.

“It’s graceful,” Reid said. “If you can stand up.”

Zooming around the other side of the rink was Rockland resident Amy Davis and her home-schooled son, Isaac. 

His gym class for home-schooled students comes to the rink on Thursday, Davis said. Isaac, 12, plays for the Boston Junior Terriers hockey team, and he’s comfortable on the ice. As she spoke, Isaac practiced tricks with his hockey stick and puck, like bouncing the puck on his stick while gliding across the rink.

She said, if he had time, they’d be at the rink twice a week for free skating time.

“There’s not much open skate available (elsewhere),” Davis said as she watched her son skate. 

Looking for a cheap place to skate? Check out these rinks:

Rockland Ice Rink

Where: 599 Summer St. #7218, Rockland.

Cost: Free during public skate hours

More info: rocklandicerink.com/public-skating

Shea Memorial Skating Rink

Where: 651 Willard St., Quincy.

Cost: $5 during public skate hours

More info: shearink.net/public-skating-news

Connell Ice Rink

Where: 220 Broad St., Weymouth.

Cost: $5 during public skate hours

More info: weymouth.ma.us/recreation/

Armstrong Arena

Where: 103 Long Pond Road, Plymouth.

Cost: $6 during public skate hours

More info: fmcicesports.com

Ulin Rink 

Where: 11 Unquity Road, Milton

Cost: $5 during public skate hours

More info: ulinrink.com/ulin_14080.html

Metropolis Skating Rink.

Where: 2167 Washington St., Canton

Cost: $5 during public skate hours

More info: cantonrec.com

Pilgrim Skating Arena, Inc.

Where: 75 Recreation Park Dr., Hingham

Cost: $5 “Little People” skate time for pre-K and kindergarten skaters

More info: tepilgrim.com 

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Reach Alex Weliever at [email protected].

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