From its humble beginnings, the Carnival of Silver Skates has grown to a major event that celebrated its 75th year this past weekend. The Jubilee performance featured 108 skaters from the community, both young and past skaters.
The Carnival began in 1938 when the community built the first skating rink, and it was decided to host an event to celebrate the new addition to the community. The first carnival featured figure and stunt skating as well as skating races. The event wrapped up with a hockey game featuring Aberdeen teams. Since the carnival started, Groton has held this event every year, except for the years of World War II.
The Carnival has grown to a full time production with a volunteer staff that plans for the carnival all year round. The committee is made up of parents and community members that plans, organizes and instructs the students in preparation for the two performances. Often referred to as the largest outdoor ice show still in existence, the Carnival is a program of duets, solos and group performances put on by children from preschool to high school age.
“It’s one of the only outdoor productions of skating for kids,” Chris Hanson, co-chairman of the Carnival said. “It’s a chance for the kids to showcase their skating skills in a variety of ways.”
To help the students develop their skills on the ice, the committee hosts a skating clinic every year. The clinic is overseen by the committee and Coralea Wolter. Wolter and older high school students spend the day teaching the younger students basic skating skills and working up to the more advanced skills for the high school students.
“We start with the basics in the four to six year olds,” Wolter said. “They are usually just getting started on the ice and we work to make them feel comfortable on skates.” As the grades advance, so do the skill requirements. “The second to fourth grade students start to learn how to stop, turn and to glide backwards,” Wolter said. “The older students learn to do the jumps, spins and more advanced moves.”
Once the committee picks the theme for the year, songs and choreography need to be done for each group. “We pick the song,” Hanson said, “then the instructor or Wolter and the committee do the choreography for each group.”
Breanna Marzahn is one of the youth instructors for the Carnival. This year was her first time instructing; she had the kindergarten class.
“Working with kindergarten-age students mean they all have their own opinions,” Marzahn laughs. “The trick is trying to keep them all happy. I was able to pick the song for my group. I also did the choreography for it.”
Marzahn has been skating for eight years and has been a part of the Carnival every year during that time. This year she was especially busy. Besides instructing and skating with the kindergarten group, she also skated with her age group and performed a solo for the first time. “While I’ve done group performances and been part of duets in the past, this is the first year I’ve done a solo act,” Marzahn said.
Cheyenne Schaller is also a first-time instructor this year, although she is by no means new to the Carnival. She has been skating for 13 years and has been in the Carnival every year. “This will be the first time I have instructed a group,” Schaller said. “I assisted the last couple of years.” While the committee picked the music for the first grade group, Schaller did the choreography. The group skated to “Steal My Sunshine.”
“The biggest challenge I faced,” Schaller said, “was getting the kids to stay up and to practice outside when the weather was cold and windy!”
Schaller also had a busy performance schedule for the Carnival. She skated with her junior/senior class and performed a specialty act with Madison Profeta to “Billie Jean.” She was also a Queen candidate and was crowned the 2013 Carnival of Silver Skates Queen. She reigned over the two performances and will crown next year’s queen.
In keeping with this year’s theme, “Celebrating the Past, Anticipating the Future,” the Carnival committee invited skaters from past years to skate in this year’s Jubilee. Featured at the beginning of each performance, the Carnival of Silver Skates 1960 King Lee Schinkel, Aberdeen, and Queen Corinne (Foss) Sharp, Edina, Minn, were introduced to the audience and pulled around the rink in the sleigh by the queen candidates. Also skating was the 1967 Queen Sandy Schaller and the 1971 Queen Renee (Mydland) Swisher. They were very honored to be a part of the 75th celebration.
“I’m so proud that the people in Groton have carried on this tradition,” Sharp said. “I mean 75 years, wow, that’s huge.”
Schinkel agreed. “It’s great to once again be part of something so special. Not only did I grow up performing in the Carnival, so did all my kids.”
To top off the outstanding performances and to celebrate the 75th Jubilee, the evening performance ended with a firework display.
“It was pretty awesome hearing the skaters cheer after each display,” Committee member Carol Smith said. “It was a great way to celebrate 75 years of ice skating in Groton.”