Want to do curling in New Jersey? Get in line
Every four winters, whether or not you'd like to admit it, you're probably fascinated by Olympic curling — the game in which teammates use brooms to direct a 40-pound stone across a sheet of ice.
While the unique sport catches the attention of America just a couple times per decade, it's always curling season inside The Igloo at Mount Laurel.
When ice-time is available, the rink becomes home to the Jersey Pinelands Curling Club, one of two clubs in the Garden State devoted to the game.
"Our club had 50 members in it prior to the Olympics, and now we have something closer to 90," said club president Ryan Adamson.
Adamson said his email inbox is greeted two or three times a day with inquiries from locals who want to join the club or learn how to play. But the leagues, as of now, are sold out. And their learn-to-curl classes are booked through June.
Adamson said the club is working toward securing a facility devoted solely to curling. Clubs like his are typically not-for-profit, so he's seeking out grant programs that can offer some assistance.
Founded in 1963, the Plainfield Curling Club in South Plainfield hosts the state's only facility with dedicated curling ice. Inside, leagues run seven nights and two days per week, from October to April.
Teams from as far away as Seattle and Iceland have visited the McKinley Street facility to participate in curling tournaments, also known as bonspiels.
The club's leagues, not including the "juniors" level, can handle a maximum of 250 members total. They're all full, thanks to a spike in interest caused by the Olympic Games and America's first gold-medal win.
"It happens every four years," said president Ed Veltre. "Our website traffic usually ranges between 250 and 350 hits a day. During the Olympics season, we were averaging well over 2,500 hits a day on our site."
Both of the club's open-house sessions in February were sold out, at $15 per guest.
Veltre said curling, which does not involve ice skates, takes a short time to learn and a lifetime to master. Up until two years ago, his club featured a curler who was 85 years old.