From the Office of State Senator Kevin Witkos
By now, you have probably heard the unfortunate news that the Norfolk Curling Club burned to the ground early in the morning of December 18th. In a senseless act of arson, two teenagers allegedly set fire to the notable organization, destroying in hours the sporting center that has provided over a half century of healthy and fun wintertime activity. As one of only two curling clubs in the entire state, the Norfolk club was renowned for its quaint and historic appeal. In fact, I was planning on visiting the club this month to talk with curlers and learn more about the sport.
For those who are familiar with the sport of curling, images of stones gliding across the ice and brooms sweeping furiously come to mind. Curling is related to other sports, such as shuffleboard or bocci, in that the premise is to launch a projectile with a certain amount of force to land within a target zone or to push an opposing team out of the zone. The closer the stone arrives to the center of the target, the more points that can be accumulated. In addition, curlers use brooms to polish the ice and manipulate the stone’s direction or speed all the way to the target zone.
Believed to have originated in medieval Scotland, curling only became an official Olympic sport in 1998. However, curling has been a part of the Winter Olympics since it started in 1924, when a demonstration was featured. Officials of the International Olympic Committee later retroactively awarded medals for these events in 2002. You may have even found yourself catching a glimpse of the sport two years ago during the televised 2010 Winter Olympics that took place in Vancouver. If you missed it, the next Winter Olympics will take place in the Russian city of Sochi in 2014.
The stones themselves have an incredible story. Most curling stones come from one island off the coast of Scotland. The blue granite that is found on Ailsa Craig has a better running surface than other types of stone. In more recent years, quarrying the stone has been limited because the island is now a bird sanctuary administered by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Unfortunately, all 32 of the club’s curling stones were destroyed in the fire after they became red hot and shattered when water was used to put out the fire. It will cost about $64,000 alone just to replace the stones.
Despite this disheartening experience, the curling club does have plans to rebuild. The entire process will likely be an expensive journey, but for club members and sport enthusiasts there is no other choice. Much of the equipment, like the stones, will be difficult to replace, but we can all be thankful that no one was injured. I look forward to attending future events, including the festive bonspiel tournaments, at a new Norfolk Curling Club and hope that you will join me in supporting this unique sport in our own backyard.
While insurance will cover part of the recovery, the Norfolk Curling Club could use all the help that we as a community can provide. If you would like to make a donation to the rebuilding effort, please make your check payable to Norfolk Curling Club and write “NCC Rebuilding Fund” on the reference line. Because the club is a 501c(3) corporation, all contributions are tax deductible. The mailing address is: Norfolk Curling Club, P.O. Box 102, Norfolk, CT 06058-0102. For more information, please visit the club’s website at www.norfolkcurlingclub.org.