Thunder Thaws Hearts at Devon Ice Rink
Thunder fan Guillermo Guerrero, 10, noticed a throng of cameras crowding the Skate Shack at the Devon Ice Rink. Once he made his way to the front of the line at the window, the boy’s face lit up when he spotted Andre Roberson behind the counter.
The night before, Guillermo was part of the raucous 18,203 Loud City faithful pouring down cheers and fist pumping inside Chesapeake Energy Arena. In his mind, watching the Thunder play in person for the first time was supposed to be the enthralling bow on a 24-hour family road trip from Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico.
Following hellos, hand slaps and a photo with Roberson, the boy came away wearing a smile that stretched end-to-end before regrouping with his parents and siblings.
“It was awesome! I was so surprised to see him here, because I was at the arena last night,” said Guillermo. “He is so tall in person.”
Working behind the rental counter, Roberson along with teammate Dakari Johnson spent Thursday afternoon plucking out requested sizes from the skate racks while thawing the hearts of surprised visitors at the Myriad Gardens.
At the checkout windows, skaters brought rosy cheeks and toothy smiles in exchange for pulse-thumping moments of facetime with Roberson and Johnson. The fun-loving Thunder duo also dished out the perfect remedy for a cold afternoon.
“Giving out hot chocolate, candy canes and wristbands on this cold day, just enjoying life,” said Roberson.
An aural backdrop of Top 40 hits piping through the air kept anything less than good vibes at bay as skaters flanked by family and friends alike zig-zagged around the ice rink.
Photo ops and high-fives served as currency at the bustling 5,500-square-foot downtown winter wonderland near the arena.
A view from behind the rental counter windows showed a wall of excited fans with camera phones unsheathed surrounding Roberson and Johnson while they mingled with customers and fulfilled skate orders.
At one point, a mischievous Johnson joined the gathering outside the Skate Shack. He went to the window where Roberson was at and barked, “Y’all got some size 17s back there?”
The largest size available was 13.
Johnson then asked for two hot chocolates to which Roberson replied, “You want that super-sized?” drawing chuckles from observers nearby.
A smirking Roberson handed two cups of steaming hot chocolate topped with whipped-cream to his tallest patron of the day. Johnson then bellowed, “The customer service was incredible!” to everyone within earshot.
“We’re helping out and putting smiles on their face. It’s pretty fun,” said Johnson.
Taking in the festive scene of people gleefully gliding around the rink took Johnson, a Brooklyn-native, back to when he was an 8-year-old kid skating with cousins at Prospect Park as part of a family tradition.
“In New York, I’m used to this cold weather. It brings back a lot of memories,” said Johnson. “When I was younger my family would take me ice skating. You see a lot of families out here with their kids.”
Despite the cooler temps, Roberson and Johnson simply wanted to have some fun and deliver memories for the excited fans on hand. Thus, the chance for customers to interact with the Thunder duo was a win for Leslie Spears, Myriad Gardens public relations director.
“At the Myriad Gardens, we love our Thunder. They’re our neighbors and we were thrilled,” said Spears. “I know they’re super busy and it’s been really cold, but they’re crowd pleasers and it’s great to have them here.”
From Mexico with Thunder Love. Roberson meets Guillermo Guerrero, 10, who traveled from Culiacán, Sinaloa, Mexico to go to his first Thunder game last night.
This is why we play. Roberson hands out Thunder wristbands and memories for a young skater. Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder
On the house. Johnson: "It's cool to reach out to the community and have some fun." Photo by Zach Beeker | OKC Thunder
Watch: Thunder Surprises Devon Ice Rink Skaters