The Wallace Civic Center opened its doors to the public in 1970. Its founder, George Wallace, a Fitchburg resident and benefactor, funded the center’s construction as a recreational as well as an educational institution for Fitchburg citizens and residents throughout New England. Over the last 25 years, the Wallace Civic Center has hosted countless sports events, musical concerts including The Foo Fighters and Nirvana, speakers, ceremonies, and educational forums in the center’s planetarium.
The complex features two separate ice arenas (Carmelita Landry Arena and Lt. Kenneth Gaetz Arena), and is home to the college’s hockey team, several community teams, and the Wallace Figure Skating Club. The arenas are open for public use. The Civic Center is managed by Facility Management Corporation of Massachusetts. 1
Carmelita Landry was born July 1, 1917 in Capebald, New Brunswick, but her family moved to Fitchburg, MA when she was still an infant. Carmelita proved to be a champion despite a major childhood setback—a gas explosion left her hospitalized for months and without sight in her right eye.
Training in bicycling and mountain climbing prepared her well for the sport of speed skating, and she continued these activities in the off-season. After winning in local and regional meets, she climbed to compete at national events. Her impressive record includes wins in the Senior Lady category, most notably the North American Outdoor at Schenectady, NY in 1941, the National Outdoor at La Crosse, WI in 1941, the North American Outdoor at St. Paul, MN in 1942, and the National Outdoor at La Crosse, WI again in 1942. Carmelita was affectionately known by others in the sport to be not
only a great competitor, but a modest, unassuming, and all-around charming person.
She married Edward J. Bernard and they had one daughter. Carmelita passed away in June of 2003. 2
The Gaetz Arena was dedicated in the memory of the late Fitchburg Police Department Lt. Kenneth Gaetz who played hockey at Fitchburg High School as a teen and continued his love of skating in adult hockey leagues.