John and Dede Howard Ice Arena | Southwestern Michigan Tourist Council

John and Dede Howard Ice Arena

The John and Dede Howard Ice Arena in St. Joseph is over 20 years old. However, ice skating at this location has been popular for much longer. The vacant lot where the arena now stands was historically flooded and transformed into a large outdoor skating rink. In 2001, a generous donation from local residents John and Dede Howard made it possible to improve the skating experience with the creation of a covered ice rink with boards, an enclosed warming area and restrooms. Over the following years, improvements have been made to the facility with the addition of locker rooms, lockers in the warming area, a party room, a concession stand and better boards and glass around the rink.

People skaing at the Howard Ice Arena

Skaters really like the fact that the NHL-sized ice rink is open air, but still has a roof overhead to keep some of the weather out. Additionally, the fireplace in the warming area is a favorite. Warming up by the fire is the perfect way to take a break from skating on cold days. The fireplace also gives the arena a really homey, comforting quality. Guests also appreciate the fact that the Zamboni resurfaces the ice regularly to maintain perfect skating conditions. Ice quality does depend on the air temperature though, and it is important to call in advance on warmer days to confirm skating will be available.

The concession stand is primarily open Friday, Saturday and Sunday and during hockey games. You can warm up with a cup of hot chocolate, hotdogs, nachos, and other delicious snacks.

>All ages and skill levels are welcome! The rink has skates to fit almost anyone from size 8 toddler skates up to size 15 men’s hockey skates. For those learning to skate, there are two types of skating assist apparatuses: blue plastic aids that are heavy and very stable and metal aids that are lighter and ideal for those who need minimal assistance. There is no charge for use of the skating assist apparatuses. Just check them out at the admissions desk. For people looking for a quieter time to learn to skate, we recommend visiting on Saturday afternoon or a weekday.

Find public open skate hours and information on the City of St. Joseph Parks and Recreation website.

You can also advance your hockey skills here with the Stick & Puck program. This program provides a great opportunity for those wanting to work on hockey skills such as stick handling, passing and shooting. Participants should keep in mind that scrimmaging is not allowed during Stick & Puck. A wide range of ages and skill levels participate in the program. There have been kids as young as 4 and even people in their 80s still honing the craft! For participants ages 16 and older, they will need to bring their own sticks, gloves and helmets, and those younger than 16 are asked to wear full hockey equipment.

John and Dede Howard Ice Arena opens a few days before Thanksgiving as long as it is cold enough to freeze the ice. 

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