DES MOINES — When you have kids and adults by the thousands who all adore and watch your every move, no, you’re not necessarily Santa Claus.
You could also be the local Zamboni driver. That makes you an Iowan to Know.
“It just looked like it was fun.”
That’s all it took for Jeff Lindquist to hop on a Zamboni for the first time 30-years-ago.
What a ride it’s been.
“We would go to the mall and the kids would point at me and say look mom there’s a Zamboni driver.”
The same treatment Santa Clause gets at the mall, not bad.
Just like the jolly bearded man, Jeff knows leaving the kids with a smile is job number one.
“Kids are sometimes scared and their parents have to hold on to them.”
Jeff says most first-time riders are pretty excited.
They’re in the hands of a real expert with 30 years experience and someone who trains other Zamboni drivers.
“The thing is that you can’t see very well right in front of you. so you have to just follow the dirty ice and try and stay on that line.”
However, the job is a lot more than just driving.
Jeff’s responsible for every facet of ice maintenance from running the cooling system under the ice to the little details of excess snow and water on game nights.
He knows how to keep this most unusual of motor vehicles running smoothly. He’s learned the craft during 23 years at Buccaneers Arena and the last seven years at Wells Fargo, most notably for all the Iowa Wild games.
Jeff said most people are surprised to find that there’s no certification for driving the Zamboni. Many states don’t even require a driver’s license.