There is no public ice skating allowed at the town's pond, Pomps Pond on Woburn Street, but it was the perfect location for Andover firefighters to practice their ice rescue drills.
That practice was turned into a Winterfest 2020 celebration recently, with the town's Conservation Commission and Recreation Department serving as hosts.
Residents enjoyed a cookout along with outdoor winter activities and demonstrations, said Ellen Townson of the Conservation Commission. Activities included ice fishing and ice boating demonstrations, a three-mile guided hike around Pomps Pond, a hockey contest and an ice block harvesting demonstration. Pomps Pond was a regular location for annual ice block harvesting more than a century ago.
The afternoon culminated with a very highly skilled ice rescue drill by Andover firefighters, Townson said.
"Every winter we have ice rescue training drills on all types of ice. It is important for the public to know that no ice is truly safe," said Andover firefighter Eric Teichert. "It was great to see so many residents at Pomps Pond observing our demonstration, and we truly appreciated their support."
Andover Boy Scout Troop 77 from West Parish Church was in charge of starting and maintaining a campfire at the event, while lots of people expressed interest in the history of Pomps Pond. Local historian Jane Cairns from the Andover Center for History and Culture had a table displaying information about the pond's history.
The ice block cutting demonstration drew a big crowd. In the hockey shot contest, first prize was an autographed photo of Boston Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron taken by award-winning photographer Winslow Townson of Andover.
Ellen Townson said the event was advertised on social media and through the Recreation Department. Local hockey families shared it with their teams, and local fishing groups sent invites.
"As a result, there were many children and families who came out,'' she said. "It was great to see so many new faces and watch everyone playing together.''