The Nantucket Ice Rink will celebrate their 20th anniversary today with a Boston Bruins Alumni Game and a party at Cisco Brewers afterwards. They will celebrate the people who have helped this rink’s doors stay open for two decades. One of those workers is Bob Hickman, who has been the facilities manager for 18 years. Hickman is stepping down from his position and will be replaced by Bryan Larivee. Hickman’s final day will be today after giving his notice on May 1.
“I think I am ready to leave and I think it is time,” Hickman said. “I think it has run its course and they probably need a new voice here. I have a lot of memories of this place so it is hard. The cool thing now is to be able to come here and see adults be able to play hockey with their grown kids, me being one of them. I don’t play anymore but if I could I would still play with Marsh and Robby.”
Hickman admitted the sustainability of the rink was always a fear within the walls of the building and that it has been challenging keeping a rink open 30 miles off the coast of the main land with a limited, small pool of people they can draw from. He said it was challenging but commended his co-workers, the rink’s board, and the community for helping them “just barely” make it through the COVID pandemic.
“To reach 20 years is a tribute to the board and their vision and what I have tried to do to the best of my ability is take care of it and hopefully when I leave (today) it is a better place than when I took over," Hickman said. "Like Devin Remick (president of the board) says, treat it like you own it, and I have tried to. We don’t please everybody. We have our complaints and people who have concerns, but overall I think we have done a fantastic job. The people who come here and use the facility in the summertime rave about it and say we are very lucky to have this kind of facility available for the community.”
Hickman said the list of people he is appreciative for and those who have been a positive influence for him during his time with the rink is a long one.
“Those people who have been here since the beginning, those are the people you are going to miss,” Hickman said. “I was trying to think about how many Zamboni drivers I have had and it has to be in the 20s. I have only had to fire one of them so it shows the quality of people I have worked with.”
“It will be sad to leave, but I am looking forward to the next challenge. I just turned 60. It is time. Maybe a little earlier than I expected, but it is an opportunity for me to do something else I would have to do eventually.”
Hickman will begin a transportation business, providing taxi and touring services on Nantucket. Hickman said Larivee is a good person and will do well. He said he has tried to help him as much as he can over the past few weeks.
“There is a lot of things back there and when I talk to him I wonder sometimes where to even start, but Bryan is a good guy and while he may have limited experience he is willing to learn and that is half the battle,” Hickman said. “It will be a challenge but I think he is up for the challenge and will do a good job. I know the board has confidence in him after hiring him.
Hickman believes moving forward, the rink needs to find a way to make the building a multi-use facility, whether that be through a removable floor they can put on and take off the ice, or by melting the ice for a few months to rent out the space to other areas of the island like they did in 2021.
“I also think the ongoing challenge will be to upgrade the facility to all the codes that have been changing throughout the year,” Hickman said. He said the ventilation system and making sure their detection system is up to par are two big projects the rink will need to take care of moving forward."
Hickman had one final message before signing off.
"I would put our ice up against anyones," he said.