Famously hot Columbia will cool down this winter as the Main Street ice skating rink on Boyd Plaza opened for a second season Thursday.
City officials expect a larger turnout this year for Main Street Ice compared to the nearly 14,000 skaters that participated in 2012, despite a slightly shorter season. The rink will remain open until Jan. 20.
“We hope we will see a larger turnout,” said Jeff Caton, director of Columbia Parks and Recreation. “The reality is that we are going to be opening a week later because of Thanksgiving (falling later than last year). The promotional activities we have planned will hopefully make up for that lost time.”
Some of the promotions the city has planned for Main Street Ice include:
Thanksgiving Day: Opening day activities, 5-10 p.m., include live music and a DJ, face painting, games and giveaways.
Dec. 21: Winterfest, noon to 4 p.m. Skaters can skate with Santa, and view skating exhibitions, ice sculpting exhibits and holiday crafts. The event also includes face painting and games and the Ugly Holiday Sweater Contest.
Dec 31: WOW! New Year’s Eve Carnival, 4-10 p.m., featuring rides, games, karaoke, food and drink vendors and craft exhibits to ring in the New Year.
Amid a flurry of weather and technical delays, setup crews from Magic Ice USA have worked to construct the skating rink in the middle of downtown at the corner of Main and Hampton streets. City officials say that from a hospitality standpoint the ice rink encourages families to get out of their homes and experience what the city has to offer this holiday season.
WATCH the rink come together
Last year, the ice skating rink’s first year in Columbia, the city spent $89,000 more on the rink than it generated in ticket sales, according to final figures from the city. However, economic projections from the Columbia Convention and Visitor’s Bureau showed visitors to the rink spent an additional $198,000 at local businesses – more than making up for the loss to the city.
The bureau also reported that a large majority of attendees were families within a 50-mile radius of the city center and they spent an average of $12 per person.
“Boyd Plaza is normally a peaceful, quite and reflective area of the city and when you add music, laughter and all of the events going on, they change that space of downtown,” Caton said. “People light up and are happy when the ice rink is in operation.”