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Ice skating at the Bergen County Wild Duck Pond on Ridgewood Avenue, 1977.
Ice skating at the Bergen County Wild Duck Pond on Ridgewood Avenue, 1977.
Posted: Thursday January 23, 2014, 11:48 AM
Wonder Years: Ice Capades
By Amelia Duggan

Pea coats from the bygone Prozy's Army and Navy Store and stocking caps were the uniform of tweens (a word not-yet coined) and teens of the era. Kids felt a lot like the characters in Charles Schulz's Peanuts comic strip.

In the 1970s, the Ridgewood Duck Pond was a popular destination for skaters of all ages. Enthusiastic ice skaters from all over Bergen would flock to this charming destination. The "hothouse" as it was, was set up with rows of benches where skaters laced up their skates or warmed up between loops on the rink. There was no Zamboni, but an unknown crew would carefully plow the snow from the pond and create a series of lanes.

Every kid in the area was out on that ice. Some could really skate. Others would just stagger in circles and then wipe out. But it didn't matter. Everyone was having fun.

Elise Byra, who grew up in Paramus but now lives in Florida, fondly remembers her afternoons at the Duck Pond.

"Those were the days!" Byra recalls. "I got in trouble for forming a 'whip' and knocking people down. And I still have my pea coat."

Back then, there were the boys who would pull the stocking caps from the girls' heads as they zoomed around the lanes. It was a real treat to actually get your cap pulled off!

The best part was walking across Ridgewood Avenue in skates and going to T&W for hot chocolate. The ice cream factory would lovingly open its doors to skaters, putting wood planks down on the floor so that the kids wouldn't have to remove their skates before entering. No chocolate chip mint ice cream cones were ordered in winter's chill, but many, MANY cups of warm and invigorating hot chocolate were sold!


Remember when?
Take yourself back to winter of 1970. The first 747 jets were taking off from JFK Airport. Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In was tops in the ratings and kids were fixated on shows like Room 222, Nanny and the Professor, The Mod Squad and Here Come the Brides with teen heart throb Bobby Sherman – the Justin Bieber of that time.


Have a "Wonder Years" story that you would like to share? E-mail us at 201family@bergen.com.

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