BIBLE HILL - It was an emotional day at a local elementary school on Friday afternoon.
About 200 students, staff and community members gathered at Bible Hill Central Elementary School on Pictou Road to celebrate the grand opening of the Paul ‘Pony' Clark Memorial outdoor rink on the school property.
It was difficult for Julee MacAfee, Pony's wife, to hold back tears during the event that dedicated the outdoor rink in memory of her husband who died from heart-related issues last year at the age of 40. Pony was well known for volunteering with community events, including often flooding the rink in the overnight hours.
"We will always treasure this," MacAfee said, her voice cracking, moments before a sign was unveiled commemorating the naming and opening of the rink.
"It's said it takes a village to raise a child and I believe it more than ever today," she said, referring to the fact her daughters, Molly and Emma, attend the school, which has been a huge supporter of the rink initiative.
Truro's Gordie Clyke attended the celebration in honour of Pony, who was a special person in his life.
"Pony was my best friend. He was godfather to my son and I'm godfather of Molly," Clyke told the Truro Daily News. "This means a lot today. Pony was kind-hearted and he'd do anything for anyone. I'm feeling emotional ... happy ... because it touches me when the community comes together like this."
Clyke believes Pony would've been humbled by the community gesture.
"He'd be humble and almost embarrassed by the fuss."
Pony's mom, Dianne Spears of Bible Hill, was also touched by the gathering. She helped with the unveiling of the rink sign and cutting of the ribbon.
"I'm so proud and happy," Spears said.
After the formal proceedings were completed, Molly and Emma took a skate around the rink to finish the ceremony. Because of the extremely frigid temperatures, an outdoor skate by students was cancelled.
Truro Bible Hill MLA Lenore Zann added some good news to an already pleased crowd. The politician said she and her family will donate $500 towards skates and helmets for youngsters to borrow while on the rink if they don't have their own equipment. That donation comes in addition to $1,000 from MacAfee for skates and helmets and about $2,400 that was approved by the Truro and area Community Health Board towards the initiative. The school's principal, Kathy Fougere, confirmed the health board's contribution during the ceremony on Friday.
Brendon Smithson, the village's recreation director, said the event, and the legacy it will leave, would make Pony smile.
"Pony used to say he was never nominated for volunteer awards so hopefully this will make up for it," said Smithson as laughter erupted from the crowd.
Smithson said Pony's efforts hadn't gone unnoticed, including him helping flood the rink from midnight to 3 a.m., in the past.
"It's just that a husband of the recreation director tended not to be nominated," he said, referring to the fact MacAfee used to be the village's recreation director.