Many residents of Harmony fondly remember the days of skating on the ice rink created near the North Park. For many years, the fire department flooded a parcel of land near the city campground and youth and families skated, played ice hockey and other games on the rink.

Then, warmer winters and drainage issues made it more difficult to sustain the quality of the ice, so the city gave up the project.

This year, however, Melinda Lutes brought the idea of bringing back an ice rink to City Administrator Jerome Illg. In turn, he took the idea to the Park Board, who agreed to try it once again. The members, along with the city council, approved funds to grade the lot behind Main Street, the former location of the bus garage, and flood it for a small rink.

The location was ideal due to its proximity to local restaurants and businesses and the fact that it would require very little preparation.

According to Illg, the city crew flooded the area and continues to maintain the ice by plowing off excess snow to keep it clean for skaters.

Lutes said she felt it was a good idea to resurrect a skating rink in Harmony because it would provide a good opportunity for children to get out and enjoy the winter. "This is Minnesota," she said with a smile.

"I thought it would be a simple thing to do to keep the kids busy and active in the winter months," Lutes added.

Getting out and enjoying time on the ice is also a great family activity Lutes said. "It gets kids away from their videos and the internet and gets them out into the fresh air, getting some exercise," she added.

As the founder of Project Fit Families, Lutes shared that there are many benefits of keeping kids active in the winter, including more than just being fit. "Sports in general help kids be more mentally focused and keep them healthier," she said.

Being outside in the elements, enjoying outdoor exercise, helps children and young adults sleep better and provides them with valuable vitamin D, which may be lacking in the winter months.

"Indoor exercise is good too, but it doesn't compare to being outside and having fun," Lutes added. "It's about kids socializing, living, trying new things and having fun."

She also noted that adding variety into an exercise regime is always a good thing.

If one was lucky enough to get a shiny new pair of skates for Christmas, the ice rink in downtown Harmony is ready for everyone to hit the ice. If Santa neglected to bring a pair for under the tree, Lutes recommends visiting local thrift stores or used-sporting equipment stores as they usually have skates at good prices.

Lutes is excited to hit the ice with her son, who loves hockey. She hopes to see many others utilizing the rink and that this provides an opportunity for current Harmony residents to create new ice-skating memories and new traditions at the new location downtown.