MARQUETTE - The skaters waited anxiously as the Zamboni driver made passes around the ice, smoothing the surface to shiny perfection.
But these skaters were not junior hockey players ready for practice or kids learning their first moves on blades.
Indeed, these were skaters who already know all about the ice. They are the seniors who enjoy open skating for adults on Monday nights at Lakeview Arena in Marquette.
Coordinator Mary DeMarse, 64, of Marquette puts on her skates and laces them up as she gets ready for Adult Skate on Monday at Lakeview Arena in Marquette. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
Clyde Hecox, 66, of Marquette skates a few laps around the ice rink during Adult Skate also on Monday at Lakeview Arena. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
The seniors had skated in the Monday night slot for many years, but in 2010-2011, their time was changed to Friday nights.
"But now we're back on Mondays," said Mary DeMarse, one of the regular participants. "It is tradition. But not everyone knows we're back on Mondays."
To say DeMarse, a lifelong Marquette resident, likes skating would be a massive understatement. She loves it. She has been at the sport for 55 years, since she was 10 years old.
"I'm a self-taught skater," she said. "Skating was huge when I was a kid. I went to St. Michael's School and I would rush home after school. We all did, my siblings and I, to get our skates and head up to The Palestra. It was packed all the time.
"I was there every single day."
The Palestra, a long beloved Marquette ice arena, was razed years ago, but that didn't keep DeMarse from the ice, with Lakeview Arena now one of her favorite spots.
"I just love skating," DeMarse said. "I even skated through my pregnancies."
DeMarse said she hopes other Baby Boomers take advantage of the Monday night skate, which is open from 7:30 to 9:20 p.m. from when the ice is put in, usually in October, through the second week of March.
"I hope more seniors come out," she said. "The skate is open to anyone 18 and older as long as they are careful and don't knock anyone down. If a senior is apprehensive, they should come on out. We will give them some suggestions and they'll find out how fun it is."
For years, a whole crew of men from Ishpeming came to skate as well, DeMarse said.
"They were here every single Monday, no matter what the weather was," she said. "People really enjoy having the time on the ice."
Clyde Hecox, 66, of Marquette, is another Monday night skating regular.
"I started coming here just before Christmas," he said as he laced up his skates Monday night. "I started skating when I was 3 or 4 and I hadn't skated for a long time. But it's good to be doing it again.
Roger Zappa, who's 52, grew up as an avid skater in Mohawk, which is in the Copper Country. Now a Marquette resident, he enjoys the adult skate time.
"I have been coming here for 26 years," he said. "I just enjoy getting out on the ice."
As DeMarse, Hecox and Zappa glided around the ice, music began to play.
"If people want to bring their own music, we'll play it," DeMarse said. "We did have an 87-year-old skater who donated a lot of music for us to use. We have organ-style music, but we play other kinds as well. We want people to enjoy it."
DeMarse's cheeks glowed a healthy pink as she and some of her friends made their way around the ice, their laughter punctuating the musical fare playing on the sound system.
"Skating is great," DeMarse said when asked of her five-decade plus devotion. "I am not ready for the rocking chair yet. I have braces on both knees, but I still get out there.
"I'm not giving it up until I absolutely have to."
Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.