In 103-degree weather last July, Julia Jordan went ice skating in Grass Valley.
The executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association was testing a small-scale version of the rink that will be set up today on the patio at the Gold Miners Inn/Holiday Inn Express. The 40-by-60-foot ice rink will be open to the public Friday through Monday with the special synthetic rink taking up most of the outside space at the hotel.
The best part? It’s free, aside from the $3 skate rental, thanks to sponsorships from 30 local businesses.
Jordan said she came upon the idea for the rink about a year ago. People wanted something new, and she thought it would be a great attraction to downtown Grass Valley.
Initially, they thought about putting the rink in during Christmas time but didn’t want the extra traffic from the rink to deter people from their holiday shopping downtown. Then the project stalled in October when the sponsorships came up short, and the nonprofit organization grew worried about funding.
But for Jordan and GVDA Event Coordinator Deana Tate, the rink was a worthwhile endeavor. So Jordan convinced the Downtown Association board to proceed with the project if they could do it without impact to the organization’s budget. Their excitement for the rink was shared among businesses in the community, whose sponsorships cover the event costs and made it a reality this week.
The Grass Valley Surgery Center chose to support the rink because the event is good for the entire community, said administrator Mary Whitmore. It is important for the surgery center to be a part of the community and the rink is good opportunity for that, Whitmore said.
“Sometimes you advertise to get more business. Sometimes you advertise because it’s a good thing to do for the community,” she said. “Hopefully my employees can go there and have a good time.”
The rink will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday and noon to 5 p.m. Monday. Rental skate sizes run from youth 8 up to adult 13.
DJ Bobby G will set the atmosphere with music throughout the four-day event. A life-size snow globe will be near the rink for visitors to play in and to pose for free souvenir photos. Skate sessions will run every hour.
The Downtown Association will take reservations for specific times on the ice or people are welcome to drop by. Only 70 people can be on the ice at once, so space will be limited, Tate said.
After each session ends, the rink will be cleared, cleaned and prepared for the next.
Bear River Pasta Company will provide food for purchase at the rink, and skaters can park at the Holiday Inn Express for $5. The hotel donated the outside patio space for all four days and stepped up as an event sponsor. Other sponsors paid to support an hour of rink time and may provide giveaways, such as water and popcorn, Jordan said.
A third-grade class from Chicago Park School will even get an ice skating lesson on the rink for P.E. class, Tate said.
Jordan said she hopes this weekend’s event goes so well that it returns next year for an even longer stay. Ideally it would open right after Christmas and run through New Year’s, so they can offer a family-friendly New Year’s Eve option downtown, she added.
To accomplish that, Jordan said all money raised this year will go into a separate fund to support a second annual event.
“We just want it to grow,” Jordan said. “We want people to have fun and come downtown.”
Although the synthetic surface of the ice rink won’t be affected by the sunny weather predicted this weekend, Jordan and Tate encourage people to bring sunglasses to block bright reflections during daytime skating.
For information about the rink or to reserve space, call the Downtown Association at (530) 272-8315.
Features Editor Brett Bentley can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.