In the fall of 1974 a group of area skaters began to talk about forming a new figure skating club because the existing available ice in the area seemed to be getting overcrowded. Since the Morris County Park Commission was finishing the new William G. Mennen Sports Arena - a "hockey minded" rink - in Morris Township, they decided to investigate the possibility of buying ice time there.
The moving force behind establishing a new club was Sigmud F. Pelson. He was a skater from Morristown who found ice time at area rinks such as South Mountain Arena. On November 4,1974 together with Mrs. Lee Martin and Mrs. Jean Taylor, he met with Mr. Richard A. Geyer, then the manager of the new arena. (Interestingly, Reynold Fauci the present manager of Mennen was the assistant manager at the time). They toured the new facility and decided to start a new skating club. Sig Pelson, as a trustee of the club, signed a contract with the Park Commission on November 11,1974 to buy ice for the new club commencing on January 14,1975. The cost of ice was $40.00 per hour.
The initial ice sessions were held on Tuesdays from 6:30pm to 8:30pm with additional Thursday ice beginning on March 6,1975 from 5:15pm to 7:15pm. There were a total of 23 sessions of 2 hours each. The first members were charged by the family. It cost a total of $50 for the families to skate on that ice! Through the first board's efforts a total of 54 families signed up for the new club. The original board of trustees were: Sig Pelson, President, Robert Taylor, Vice President/Music Chairman, Eleanor Kennedy, Secretary/Public Relations, and Kitty Veltri, Treasurer/Ice Chairman. Other board members: Lorraine Savarese, Membership Chairman, Dr. Robert Ortner, Special Events Chairman and David Loring. The club was incorporated on December 17,1974.
That first skating season was marred by the death of the organizer of the club, Mr. Sigmund Pelson. He died in the spring of 1975 at South Mountain Arena taking part in The New Jersey Council of Figure Skating Clubs Championships. His dream of establishing a continuing family skating club for reasonable fees in the Morris area was continued when his wife, Florence, also known as Mickie, took on the presidency of the club. She continued in this capacity until November of 1975 when she was compelled to resign because of commitments to her career. She was able to keep the club a viable entity through the beginning of the 1975-76 skating season. In July of 1975 the club applied to the USFS for membership.
The club's first full skating season of 1975-1976 proved to be a precarious one. A family membership which included mother, father, and one child cost $150. For this fee the family could skate on the 152 hours of ice offered by the club on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, although the latter two days were often interrupted by hockey taking over the ice. In November of 1975 a general meeting was held to discuss the fate of the club since it only had twenty members at that time. The dedicated board of trustees resolved to continue on and make a concerted effort to increase membership. In December 1975 the USFS granted the club Interim Probationary membership. By the time the USFSA granted Probationary status in May 1976 the club had over forty members and had already run test sessions headed by Beverly Anderson as the first test chairman.
Today we have a membership of over 200 members. The club runs a number of ice sessions per week for our membership as well as seminars, showcases and competitions. We have a rich tradition of achievement among our members. We currently have members on nationally recognized synchronized skating team as well as a number of skaters representing us in the National Solo Dance Championships and the Excel Series Finals. These are in addition to the many singles skaters of all ages that compete at both qualifying and non-qualifying competitions, and earn their test achievements. Our commitment to providing ice, coaching and Club support continues to draw new skaters of all ages and is a source of continued energy and vitality.
Sig Pelson must be smiling at the realization of his dream.