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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Town of Essex celebrates New Year with free skate and swim sessions

by Garrett Fodor

As the ball was preparing to drop and calendars were flipping to 2023, the Town of Essex invited residents to celebrate the start of a new year by taking advantage of free events that took place at some of its recreational facilities.

As a part of annual New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day traditions, the Town of Essex invited local families to come together and enjoy some of the recreational activities the Town has to offer at no cost.

On New Year’s Eve, both the Essex Centre Sports Complex and the Harrow Arena were opened for free skates, with the latter also happening alongside the annual Harrow Chamber of Commerce’s New Year’s Eve Bash. In downtown Harrow, the New Year’s Eve Bash featured ball hockey, entertainment, and a ball-drop suited towards families.

On New Year’s Day, residents were invited to take a quick dip in the Essex Aquatic Centre for a free public swim.

“It is one of those commitments that Council after Council has bought into, because they know the value and the benefit that it has for the members of the community,” Jake Morassut, Director of Community Services for the Town of Essex, said. “Opening the facilities for a couple hours is one of those times where you can just get a different demographic of people who don’t necessarily have the ability because of their lifestyles.”

He added, “We are encouraging a more active lifestyle for not only our constituents, but also all the community. Events like these, in partnership with other recreational managers and directors, are helping to make Windsor-Essex a better and more active spot, and over the last couple of years, we have seen the benefits of physical activity and how important it is to us.”

The Town of Essex has offered the annual tradition of the free holiday public skates and swimming over New Year’s for over 15-years, Morassut noted. Each year, the attendance at all three events, including the Harrow Chamber of Commerce New Year’s Eve Bash, has grown, something he and the Town are happy to see.

“I can honestly say like, especially growing up, I was at the rink, doing public skating as much as I could,” Morassut recounted. “I know that there’s a lot of difficulties, especially with hockey players or people’s schedules. People have busy lives, so it’s not always possible for people to get out there on the weekends.”

These free events create unique opportunities, because it’s a holiday where a lot of people have time off.

“It gives a little bit more of an opportunity for those people who may not be able to make our regular times throughout the year and it does not cost them anything aside from their time,” he said.

Morassut thanked the community for their continued support of the annual event as well as the Town Council and staff members for helping to put on the event.

Looking ahead, Morassut noted that beginning on January 9, the Town of Essex will roll out the public feedback process of creating a “Community Services Master Plan.” This will invite the public to respond to the survey and provide feedback and framework for how the Community Services Department, including parks and recreation, will change over the next decade.

He noted Town staff are open to any and all feedback and suggestions. The survey can be found on the Town of Essex’s website,, and will be available until January 30. He also invites anyone looking to host any sort of special event to contact the Town.

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