Synthetic rink in Grass Valley ready for 3-day weekend |

Synthetic rink in Grass Valley ready for 3-day weekend

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

The synthetic ice skating rink is officially up and running in downtown Grass Valley to the delight of more than 100 participants who visited the rink Friday.

“It’s definitely been a hit,” said April Halliday, volunteer for the Grass Valley Downtown Association. “We were expecting it to be slow since it’s a school day. This weekend is going to be nuts.”

Some said the rink’s synthetic surface took some time to adjust to.

“It’s not the same as real ice,” said Jennifer Roberts, who skated with her son, Holden. “It glides fine but doesn’t grip at all and you can’t push out. But I love the idea of it, and it’s so cool to set something up like this and make it affordable.”

Some of the children said even though the material was different, the experience was enjoyable.

“It isn’t like real ice,” said Reed Young, 11. “You couldn’t really get a grip. It was pretty fun though.”

Some said they would have liked a bit more elbow room on the rink, which measures 40 by 60 feet.

“You can’t really go fast on it. It’s really greasy when you touch it,” said Holden, 10. “I think it should be bigger.”

“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity to get skates on,” said Nevada City resident Brian Young. “You can tell the surface is not exactly like real ice. You have to learn how to skate on it. But the synthetic works. It just needs to be bigger.”

Other residents echoed the sentiment of the benefit of having the rink set up in the community.

“It’s pretty cool to be doing this in Grass Valley,” said Grace O’Mara from Penn Valley, who said she was a figure skater as a child. “It’s really cool. I think it should be three times as big, but at least we’re in Grass Valley and the sun is shining.”

The synthetic rink is padded unlike regular ice, which makes for a less painful fall, O’Mara noted.

“I think it’s better for kids because it’s cushioned,” O’Mara said. “I haven’t heard any kids cry from falling.”

Aside from adjusting to the synthetic material and the size of the rink, several said it should be available for a longer period of time, or a permanent rink should be put in place.

“I wish that they had it all winter,” said Sonja Norman from Nevada City. “Or they should just build a rink.”

Young said he remembered when the downtown Safeway used to be an ice rink in the 1960s.

“A lot of people would take advantage of a rink,” Young said. “The need is here.”

Alongside the rink, a life-size snow globe was also set up for picture taking with a $5 suggested donation price.

“You’re not required to pay, but if you’d like to donate, you can,” said Julia Jordan, executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association.

Bear River Pasta has a tent set up at the rink and is offering sandwiches, hot dogs and hot and cold beverages.

“It’s been great,” said Theresa Brenner, who co-owns Bear River Pasta with her husband, Carl.

“We’ve seen a lot of excited kids and families and lots and lots of smiles,” Carl Brenner said, “and new faces to this end of Grass Valley.”

Carl tested out the rink in July and said the material is similar to regular ice.

“It’s just like regular ice that when it gets colder, the ice will be colder,” Carl Brenner said. “I think it skates nicely.”

The rink will be set up throughout the weekend from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. today, noon to 7 p.m. Sunday and noon to 5 p.m. Monday.

Regardless of whether or not residents prefer regular ice or a bigger space, visitors appreciated the opportunity to bring people in the community together.

“I love the idea,” Roberts said. “It’s nice to have something for the community like this.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call 530-477-4230.

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