Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, elves, Olaf and some minions made a special trip to the Montclair State University Ice Arena to partake in the festivities at the second annual Monarchs Hockey holiday party.
However, it was the appearance of a former N.H.L. player that had the kids, and their parents, clamoring to get an autographed picture. Brian Mullen, who was a forward for the NY Rangers from 1987-1991, talked about his time with the N.H.L., took pictures and got out on the ice with the kids during the event.
“I always look forward to these events where I get the chance to give back to the sport that I love and have a fun time out on the ice with the kids,” Mullen said.
As the kids and their parents munched on pizza, chicken fingers and cookies, Mullen engaged in conversations with every member of the Monarch team while signing autographs and telling stories about his time on the ice.
After that, it was down to the rink for an open skate. With holiday music blasting from the speakers inside the rink, members of the Montclair State Red Hawks men’s hockey team and Mullen laced up their skates and helped the kids shoot pucks.
During this time, the other special guests began making their way onto the ice. First out were Minions Bob and Stuart, followed by some of Santa’s elves and Olaf who played with the kids and even helped a few skate.
However, no holiday party would be complete without a visit from the big man himself, Santa, with Mrs. Claus by his side. Letting out a jolly ho-ho-ho, Santa and Mrs. Claus made their way to the rink and spent the rest of the evening skating alongside the players and their families.
“This party is spectacular,” one of the Monarch players said to his mom.
Brad Meyers, executive director of Monarch Hockey, spoke about the event.
“Our holiday party was a great success,” Meyers said. “It’s a great time to bring our families together for good food, good fun and good conversation. It gives us a chance to say thank you to the families of our skaters who trust us to teach their children to skate and play hockey. It strengthens our Monarchs community and brings our families closer to each other.”
The Monarchs, a non-profit organization that focuses on providing children with disabilities a safe environment to thrive in and learn to ice skate or play ice hockey, have called the ice arena home for almost three years.
The athletes’ journey begins with their Learn to Skate program which focuses on the very basics of skating. Participants then progress through one or more concentration, including special hockey, speed skating or figure skating.
The Monarchs’ mission of inclusion allows anyone to try something they may have never thought possible. The all-volunteer organization is passionate about helping children socialize and learn new skills while enjoying the sport of ice skating and hockey.
“The participation of our volunteers, instructors, coaches and Montclair [State] students is what makes us successful,” Meyers said.
If you would like more information about the Monarchs visit their website at www.monarchs.us for more information.