On October 13th of this year, members of the skating community, Burbank Ice Arena staff, and members of Nelson’s family gathered together for the commemorative plaque unveiling in Nelson’s honor. Our video from the event is below.
Ed Peduto, Burnbank Ice Arena’s General Manager, told numerous heartfelt stories about Nelson Burbank and his family that spanned his 28 year career at the rink. One of Ed’s story’s he spoke about was the first time that the employees at the Burbank Ice Arena had to be paid and Nelson just wanted to cut everyone checks. Ed went behind Nelson’s back and spoke to Nelson’s lawyer, who he joked was to remain nameless but was in attendance for the unveiling, and he must have got through to Nelson. Next thing Ed saw was a red faced Nelson Burbank steaming in and telling him to never go to his lawyer again. Ed joked about his 30 day trial being up but Nelson agreed to the payroll service but the pressure to pay down the note was his priority.
Brad Jones, State Representative also spoke during the event. Brad said nothing was going to keep him away from speaking after Ed asked him to. He recounted that it was a challenge when the rink was a vision for Nelson. Not everyone in the community embraced it. Now, it’s a pillar in the community and everyone in embraces it. Nelson went on to do so many other things for the town that he loved from the YMCA to the Veterans. Nelson asked former Reading Town Manager, Peter Hechenbleikner, for a list of ideas for the town. Peter came up with a list and gave it to Nelson. Nelson took the list and said, “you know what, I’ll do the whole thing”. That’s Nelson Burbank.
Peter Burbank, Nelson’s son, recounted the rink opening on November 24th, 1994. How did the idea of the rink come about? As early as the 1970’s, Nelson was concerned about the young boys driving into Boston late at night to practice. He asked Peter about Reading having it’s own ice rink. Peter said he thought it was a tremendous idea. He thought the process would be simple but it was not. With the support of Reading town officials, the town of Reading and Nelson’s perseverance, the rink is around today
The Burbank Ice Arena has generated $2 million dollars, going on $3 million dollars, to the Town of Reading’s General Fund.