Skating in Bushnell Park is back this year, kicking off today at 4pm with a brief procession from the carousel to the rink (twice the size of last year’s, and with a zamboni for better surface conditions), carols, a short professional skating show, twinkly lights, an appearance by the cast of HCT’s “Hairspray”, and of course free skating and skate rental. Billed as “iQuilt Presents Winterfest” (vs last year’s Festival of Lights Constitution Plaza vs Park PR mishap), the rink brings lots of folks Downtown (including City kids who might not otherwise ever try ice skating), provides a fun activity before or after local dining, and makes great use of our beautiful park, normally seen as only a warm-weather destination. Could the nearly-three months of skating and related wintry activities be the seeds for future festivities akin to Quebec’s Winter Carnival? We salivate at the thought.
Skating hours here.
Not Hartford. Artist’s rendering of an outdoor rink in Wade Park Oval, University Park, Cleveland, OH.
Mayor Pedro Segarra recently announced that the 43-year old Festival of Lights is moving from Constitution Plaza to Bushnell Park, and will be expanded to include an ice skating rink! Back in the early 2000s the park sported a synthetic rink for two seasons, and saw upwards of 20,000 visitors. These articles in the Courant have spurred a handful of comments praising and condemning the move. As usual, the naysayers are wondering where they will park and dislike the idea of having to walk on the city streets. The original Festival of Lights display was created in 1963 as a way to get the public onto the then-new raised concrete plaza. It certainly made for a much more interesting stroll to and background for Spris restaurant, but there was limited space for a large crowd and obstructed views for Santa’s arrival, the carol sing and the lighting ceremony. Bushnell Park’s open fields and performance pavilion offer plenty of space and will make it easier for kids of all ages to see Santa throw the switch and set the park a-glittering. The skating rink will keep them coming back for repeat visits and be a fun thing to do before or after dinner at area restaurants (or dinner at home for those who live downtown). We say keep the rink up ‘til Spring: give families a cheery Winter alternative to the carousel and help conquer everyone’s cold-weather blahs.