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In The Pipeline: From on the water to on the ice

April 16, 2013|By Chris Epting
  • Richard Zamboni, 80, of Huntington Beach. His father, Frank, invented the Zamboni ice resurfacing machine.
Richard Zamboni, 80, of Huntington Beach. His father,… (Courtesy CHRIS…)

My idea of a boat is a kayak, so that is the boat I own.

As I tool around Huntington Harbour during spring and summer, I still marvel at the many yachts that dwarf my blue plastic Ocean Kayak, so I was pleased to accept an invitation to ride in the parade of boats that opened the 46th season at the Huntington Harbor Yacht Club.

I had recently spoken to the Sea Belles, a women's group at the club, about local history. Afterward, club member Mim Strickler generously invited my wife and I to join her on the Coral Queen, owned by Frank and Virginia Buccella. And so off we went last Sunday.

Despite the overcast skies, there was great pageantry in the air as the yachts lined up to be saluted by commodores past and present before the dozens of crafts wove in and out the harbor channels to cheers and waves of residents on the shore. Seeing the many kayaks in the water, this perspective felt a bit odd for me. I belonged down there! But we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

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The food and drink was wonderful, but it was the company that made the day.

One man in particular I had a long conversation with as we cruised around before heading to the club for the ceremonies was Richard Zamboni. And if the last name sounds familiar, yes, it was Richard's dad, Frank, who actually invented the Zamboni — you know, the machine that resurfaces ice-skating rinks.

As I learned, the family history is fascinating. Some background: Frank Zamboni and his brother built an ice rink (after being in the refrigeration/ice business), which opened in Paramount in 1940. Frank found that the process of ice resurfacing was labor intensive, and so he began to experiment with various prototypes until the Zamboni Model A ice resurfacer was able to produce a good sheet of ice in the summer of 1949.

After inventing the world's first self-propelled ice resurfacing machine, Zamboni wanted to name his company the Paramount Engineering Company, as he helped to form the city of Paramount (by bringing together the cities of Hynes and Clearwater) in the late 1940s. However, the name Paramount Engineering was already in use, so he used his family name.

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