Hershey Skating Club
The Hershey Skating Club has been an active part of our community since its founding in 1934. Though it was officially established that year, Hershey’s interest in figure skating dates much earlier. When the Hershey Ice Palace opened in 1931, a small group of figure skaters from Lancaster joined to together as an informal club and came to Hershey to practice their “figures.”
Over the next few years the group expanded to include skaters from Harrisburg, Hershey and Reading. The idea for an established club grew out of the group’s desire to be able to rent the rink for sessions devoted to figure skating. Club membership grew from its original 48 skaters to over a group of 125 members at the end of the 1937-1938 season. Milton Hershey was very supportive of the Skating Club. During his lifetime the Club was able to use the Ice Palace and then the Sports Arena without charge.
The same year the club was established Hershey sponsored its first Ice Carnival, featuring well-known professional figure skaters. The first two shows were choreographed by Joe Chapman of the Philadelphia Skating Club. The club was also assisted by Roy Shipstad, creator of the Ice Follies, who came frequently during 1935 to offer lessons, while serving as the Ice Pro at Baltimore. For the 1936-1937 season the Club hired its first skating professionals, Evelyn Chandler and Bruce Mapes, who offered lessons and oversaw development of the annual ice show.
The Club’s Ice Show was very popular in the community. The number of performances offered quickly increased from one show the first year to three shows. Even with the expansion, tickets sold out quickly and many were turned away at the door.
Hershey’s interest in figure skating as well as hockey was a key factor in Milton Hershey’s decision to build the Hershey Sports Arena in 1936. Since then the Figure Skating Club has played an important role in our community’s recreational life, providing opportunities for learning and practicing figure skating to children and adults. Over the years the Club has also hosted a number of regional and national competitions, beginning with the 1953 United States Figure Skating Championship and most recently the 1992 Pro-Am Competition.