My kids have each been fortunate to visit Nationwide Arena for a Columbus Blue Jackets game. I even indoctrinated my youngest this preseason.
One thing that has always shadowed all of the on-ice action for them is the allure of riding the zamboni. They see kids enjoying their unique voyage across the rink and wish it was them.
An admission: I was on the power patrol for the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2006-07 season. It was a blast. I won’t completely reveal my sources, but by reaching out to past contacts, I was able to arrange having my daughter ride the pregame zamboni for the most recent home game. Of course I kept this a surprise from her.
We entered the arena earlier than usual, which she only mildly questioned. We had a prearranged meeting with the current power patrol regime, and at this point, she started to ask questions on what was actually going on. We were led into the bowels of the arena by a power patrol member who eventually spilled the beans on what was soon about to take place. She simultaneously was elated but also nervous when it set in that I was not joining her on the ride.
We got to watch pregame warmups from the zamboni tunnel and take a picture with Stinger. I was given the chance to reminisce with a few familiar faces from 15 years ago and was even reminded that I gave the legendary Braveheart freedom speech for my audition.
Then she was summoned to climb aboard for her ride. After a few instructions and some anxious dialogue with the driver, she was on her way to assist with smoothing the ice for gametime.
When her ride was over, she asked me questions on how this happened for her. I explained how I had to make contact with some people that worked for the team and that this wasn’t something we could just snap our fingers and make happen. At eight, she’s starting to understand the commitments and work her parents do to support her and her siblings. She’s even starting to show some appreciation for it too. Consequently, she gave me a big hug and thanked me for giving her this opportunity.
You don’t need me to sell you on all of the fun things for kids to do at Nationwide Arena, as throughout the rest of the night, we took pictures, visited the new Fan Zone and even watched a noncompetitive hockey game.
But the highlight for her was her novel ride upon the zamboni. The highlight for me was seeing how much she enjoyed it (and holding the WWE championship belt - it was also WWE night!).
-Steven Michalovich, Regular Contributor
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.