More than 200 participants take part in first Family Skate Day at Discovery Middle School

The weather ended up being almost picture perfect for the event, which took place Sunday, Feb. 5.

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Carrie and Matt Gilbertson of Alexandria took part in the Family Skate Day at Discovery Middle with their three children, Hunter, 2; Hannah, 4; and Liam, 9 months.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

ALEXANDRIA — Hosting a first-time event can be nerve wracking as one never knows how many people will show up. Plus, putting together an event can be a lot of work.

But Lukas Gotto knows first hand that it can also be worth all the effort. He recently organized the first-ever Family Skate Day at Discovery Middle School. The event took place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the school's new ice skating rink this past Sunday, Feb. 5.

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Discovery Middle School Teacher Lukas Gotto took this picture of people skating with his drone. The skaters took part in the first-ever Family Skate Day, which Gotto organized at the new ice skating rink at the school.
Contributed photo / Lukas Gotto

Gotto, a DMS teacher, as well as the technology integration specialist and community engagement coordinator, said it was a very successful event and better than he expected.

"We had just over 200 people come down and skate throughout the day, enjoying the fire pits and food we had available," he said. "We couldn't have ordered better weather, which certainly helped us out."

At the start of the event, Gotto said there was more preschool/young elementary students enjoying the ice. It was steady throughout the afternoon with that age group, he added. Closer to lunch, there was a good mix of community members on the ice, he said, with age groups ranging from infants to grandparents.


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Daniel Traynor and his son, Bohdi, 5, of Osakis, took part in the Family Skate Day at Discovery Middle School Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

"There were a lot of smiles, laughing, falling down and then getting right back up," he said. "I didn't know it before, but there's a lot of life experience on the ice there that children can learn from, falling down and being determined to get back up, and that was really cool to see."

There were many favorite parts to this event for Gotto, but one of them, he said, was the support from Dan Rooney at Cowing Robards. He said they loaned him 50 pairs of skates for people to use for free at the event.

"I've said it before, but every day I feel blessed to work in a community that supports our schools this much," said Gotto. "It really is unique."

Another fun part of the day was talking to families and their children about how their time on the ice went. Everyone had a great time, said Gotto, noting that at least a half dozen parents thanked him for putting it on and said they were going to have to go out and buy skates for themselves.

"One parent also said, while laughing, 'We were pretty sure our daughter wasn't going to win any athletic scholarships, but wow, is she a natural on the ice!' " Gotto shared. "I told them how great Cowing Robards was to work with and that I bet they could hook them up with some skates."

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People of all ages enjoyed the first-ever Family Skate Day at the new ice skating at Discovery Middle School in Alexandria. The event, organized by Lukas Gotto, took place Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023.
Celeste Edenloff / Alexandria Echo Press

Gotto noted that besides the skating, attendees also enjoyed two great food options — Papa K's Rescue BBQ, a food truck owned by Jeff and Amber Johannes, had a tent set up with food, and Janeen Peterson, director of Food and Nutrition Services for Alexandria Public Schools, also had food available.

"With this event being a great success and done for this year, I'm already thinking about how to grow it next year, maybe have a 'Mid-Winter Carnival' and utilize the ice again, but with our two miles of trails at Discovery through our woods, we could add cross county skies and snow shoes to the mix and maybe even a candlelit walk," said Gotto. "I'll be excited to think about it and offer another family experience for our community next year."

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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