#225: Ride a Zamboni

Zamboni ride at the Norfolk Admirals game

Zamboni ride at the Norfolk Admirals game

LOCATION: Norfolk Admirals. Norfolk, VA

            Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to ride a Zamboni. As I grew up, I learned that this was a lot of people’s dreams. I guess the song “Zamboni” by the Gear Daddies really made it popular. But, even in that song, they couldn’t ride the thing. Troy was determined to get me a ride on one when he found out it was on my list. He went to three ice skating rinks and asked the manager if I could get a ride. The reply at all of them was, “sorry, no. Our insurance won’t allow it.” Really? What could possibly go wrong on a Zamboni ride.

I then decided to email the marketing person for the local Norfolk Admirals team. I’ve seen people ride the Zamboni there, clearly it could be done. I received a response immediately. I could ride the Zamboni. However, they give rides to sponsors of the games or if there is a birthday party (which costs a minimum of $500). He did say that I could come to a game and check with information. If there was not a sponsor for one of the periods or a birthday party, they would be happy to give me a ride. They wouldn’t be able to tell me if it was reserved or not until the game was about to start, which means I’d have to go to several games.

To games we went! Troy and I went to several games through January to March which ended the 2010-2011 season. Each time, we were disappointed with the fact that the Zamboni was reserved. I was left hopeless and unsure if it was going to be possible. Finally, when the new 2011-2012 season opened up in October, we decided to go and it was free in the second period! I was overjoyed! They told me to come to the information desk 5 minutes before the first period was over.

I arrived like a giddy school girl. I couldn’t believe after nearly a year of trying, this was finally going to happen. Troy and I were escorted to the downstairs area where the Zamboni garage was. I met the driver (sadly, I forgot his name). He said I could sit on the passenger side, but I would need to sit cross-legged so that I don’t hit the engine tank, which would be very hot. After warming up the machine, away we went and onto the ice.

Zamboni ride at the Norfolk Admirals game

Zamboni ride at the Norfolk Admirals game

About to start my zamboni ride!

About to start my zamboni ride!

View from the Zamboni

View from the Zamboni

At first, the ride was exciting and gave me a rush. So many people were staring at me. We had to make ten passes around the ice, which would take about 15 minutes. I had a lot of fun, but after 5 passes or so I was ready to get off since it just got boring after the excitement wore off.  I started to talk to the guy driving, he gave me loads of information about his job and zamboni’s in general. I thought the machine melted the ice, but it puts out a chemical to smooth the ice and scraps it clean. He had been doing it for 12 years and enjoyed it. He was so nice.

After awhile, my experience was over. Everyone at the Scope were so unbelievably nice to us and letting us do this. It was an incredible time and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Definitely worth waiting for! I rode my Zamboni!

* Thank you Troy for accompanying me on this adventure, being the biggest supporter in what I do and always being there to take the pictures for me.

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?: It was a lot of fun and makes for a great story, but I don’t think I need to do it again.

HOW TO DO THIS: They don’t allow rides through regular ice skating rinks for insurance reasons. Contact local hockey leagues on their policy. I did mine through the Admirals. Zamboni rides are given only if they aren’t sponsored out or in use for a birthday party. Ask for available spots on the day of the game at the information booth.

Here is the Gear Daddies’ “Zamboni” video.

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