Former Ice Capades performers reunite

Courier-Post Staff


Janette Chelhowski got to know South Jersey when she spent three years skating with the Ice Capades in the late 1960s, rehearsing new shows and performing them all summer in the resort.

She got to know it so well, the Toronto native spent the intervening years living throughout South Jersey, including Voorhees and Medford, before moving to North Wildwood.

She taught ice skating at the Flyers Skate Zone and in the Coliseum, both in Voorhees. She still teaches competitive skating throughout the region.

"The Ice Capades has been the basis for everything else I've done," said Chelhowski, 55, who also modeled and did television commercials.

But until Monday, she hadn't set foot inside Boardwalk Hall since her stint with the Ice Capades ended in 1970.

Chelhowski and more than three dozen former skaters gathered in the famed arena as part of a two-day reunion of Ice Capades alumni. They came from Margate and Toronto, Fairfax, Va., and South Bend, Ind. For many, it was their first trip back to Atlantic City.

"I refused to come back here. It was sad to see it disappear," Chelhowski said.

"The majority hadn't been back since they left the show," said Gloria Spoden, who organized the reunion.

From 1941 through 1981, the Ice Capades show was a summertime fixture at what was then known as Atlantic City Convention Hall. Performers host a reunion in Las Vegas every five years, but never in Atlantic City, which was like a second home to many skaters, Spoden, of Toronto, said. The troupes would rent housing in the resort or in neighboring communities as they rehearsed the year's new show.

"The Ice Capades were part of the legendary fabric of what life was like in Atlantic City in those years," said Valarie McGonigal, a spokeswoman for Boardwalk Hall, who led a tour of the arena.

Said Jeffrey Vasser, executive director of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, an area native, "I can't believe it took you this long to come back to Atlantic City, but I'm glad you did it on my watch."

For Spoden and others, it was a time to revisit old haunts like the White House Sub Shop and Tony's Baltimore Grill, and see new ones, including the renovated Boardwalk Hall.

"We just stepped into conversations we had last time we were together," Chelhowski said.

And they shared memories.

Back in the day, the Ice Capades founders had a religious bent and expected the performers to go to church each Sunday, Spoden said. Instead, many would slip out the side door of Convention Hall to Bart & Tony's Bar across the street.

"We nicknamed the bar "the church,' " said Spoden, who skated with the Ice Capades from 1966 through 1971.

The bar is long gone, but Trump Plaza and its own watering holes are across the street.

Marjory Kunik skated from 1944 through 1948. Raised in Timmons, in Northern Ontario, she met her husband in Atlantic City. He was a local lad, working as an usher while attending Villanova just after World War II. They married and Kunik never left the area. She lives in Margate today.

Julie Rudasics joined the Ice Capades the same year as Kunik in 1944, and skated until 1950.

"I have such lovely memories from those days, of traveling to all those cities and meeting so many lovely people," said Rudasics, a Schumacher, Ontario native now living in South Bend. "Afterwards, I got married and settled down. I had my fill of traveling. But I ice skated until I was 74."

Fred Yanke, 73, skated from 1952 through 1958, with a couple of years off for military service. After his performing days ended, Yanke moved to the Washington, D.C. area, where he taught.

Nancy Horner was born and raised in Atlantic City but never skated here. By the time she joined the Ice Capades in the 1980s, the summer tryout days in Atlantic City had ended.

"I worked as an usher at the show while growing up, but I never got to perform in my hometown," said Horner, who skated and danced at Trump Castle after her Ice Capades days ended and is also a lawyer.

Reach William H. Sokolic at (609) 823-9159 or
Published: September 19. 2006 3:10AM

           Another  Ice Capades Article About the Reunion in .pdf format


Announcing Press Release

Toronto Canada (May 5, 2006)

Henry Seguin, Gloria (Lor) Spoden & Pat (Pinky) Forbes, all former performers with Ice Capades have organized a mini reunion in their old summer home of Atlantic City on September 17 - 18, 2006. 

Ice Capades, an Atlantic City institution were long time summer residents in this famous seaside resort.  It was here they first rehearsed for their upcoming annual road trips across the country.   

Ice Capades history in Atlantic City is very deep and those involved want to come back to embrace its love of the city one more time.

When a recent survey went out asking if there was interest in putting something together, the most comments received were ‘I haven’t been back to Atlantic City since I left the show and it would be fun to come see what has happened since then.’  

Ice Capades gypsies want to come back – to see Boardwalk Hall, The Steel Pier, Mr. Peanut, Whitehouse Sub Shop, Baltimore Grill, and even Lucy the Elephant.   

Even now the Ice Capades sign can still be seen on the pipes as one drives into the city.   

According to the organizers  "This will be a gathering of old friends who want to get together again,  just to keep in touch in a city they all called their summer home".  

The reunion will be held at The Tropicana Casino & Resort with registration on Sunday September 17th.  There will be a series of events designed to provide lots of time to reacquaint old friends - sample some of that famous Steel’s Fudge, or taste a fully loaded Whitehouse Sub, just for old time’s sake. 

Ice Capades Mini Reunion Information:


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For More Information: 

Gloria (Lor) Spoden - 416-269-0774

Pat (Pinky)  Forbes  -  816-222-4467

Henry Seguin




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