We hadn’t planned to visit The Emera Oval, but during a walk across the Halifax Commons, one sunny day this week, it just happened. The result was a super fun-filled family adventure, in the heart of Halifax. And the best part? We didn’t spend a dime!
Once my kids caught sight of some other children biking and skating at The Oval, there was no turning back, and so we made our way to the long white hut/trailer to borrow some gear. This trailer is temporary, soon to be replaced with a permanent building, but I hope the simplicity remains: in one side, out the other, with no fast food outlets, coffee shops or vending machines to tempt the kids. (When visiting The Oval, bring some water, sunscreen and a snack.)
Inside the trailer, we found four super-friendly, very knowledgeable, and totally camera shy local teenagers, wearing red t-shirts, clearly marked with STAFF (more about these helpful people later). After taking my driver’s licence (any government-issued ID will do) they fitted us up with skates and safety gear, and happily adjusted my daughter’s helmet to get the right fit. I told them that the brown skates reminded me of Wheelies in Lower Sackville, and they confirmed the rumour. YES- THESE ARE THE WHEELIES SKATES!
The baby of the family (21 months old) wasn’t ready for skating. I wasn’t sure about letting him take out a two-wheeled scooter, but after some adjustments and a little indoor practice, he was ready to go.
Here is some of the bike selection, which sits outside the hut, ready for anyone to use. No booking, no reservations required; it’s a very casual and friendly system. Remember those helpful STAFF in red t-shirts? There were at least three more outside. Nothing was too much trouble. Every time the little guy needed a handle or a seat adjustment, they were on hand with a wrench to help out.
Throughout the afternoon, my littlest one also tried a tricycle and run-bike. It’s useful to know that The Oval also has inline skates, a trike, a chariot (think baby naps!) and even skateboards to borrow. There are options for people with limited mobility too. And of course, you can bring your own!
Here we go. It was my six-year old’s first time on roller skates, and she was a little nervous. It’s crazy to think that when I was just a little older than her, gawking at Michael Jackson’s Thriller on the big screen at Wheelies, I could have been wearing these exact skates. I have been trying to remember what my shoes size was back in 1983. Of course, no one wore helmets back then. And do you remember the Wheelies smell? Cotton Candy. It’s all coming back to me now.
When roller skating, bend your knees slightly, and if you are unbalanced, place your hands on your kneecaps and just relax. Four wheels is a little different than ice or inline skates, but the feeling of those wheels on concrete is something special.
The small print? My daughter found the skates heavy, she fell several times, and it took almost 45 minutes to get around…once. At the final corner she gave up, and marched across the grass toward the trailer, complaining about being tired, with me and the toddler racing behind her, me shouting scary-mommy style: “Good job, darling. You did great! You are a great skater!”
Although this was a slightly unconventional exit from the track, the staff didn’t mind that she walked across the grass in skates. Things are definitely a little more relaxed at The Oval in the summer.
The most important thing I learned from today’s experience was that a trip to The Oval doesn’t have to be elaborate, or highly organised. As long as you have some sunscreen, a bottle of water, and a good dose of enthusiasm, The Oval, and its amazing team of helpful young staff members, will be there every day this summer (check details below) for your family to enjoy.
It’s going to be a great summer!
Summer Skating at the Halifax Oval Details:
When: 7 days a week, Call the hotline before you go to check skate times
Where: Halifax Commons (North Common), Cogswell St. Halifax
Emera Oval Hotline: 902- 490-2347