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Winter Wonderland 2010


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Winter Wonderland 2010

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Winter Wonderland With KwikRink Synthetic Ice®

Rockford Illinois

Officials tout atmosphere ice rink provides

Photos

BEN WOLOSZYN | RRSTAR.COM

People skate on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010, at the Harris Winter Wonderland at Davis Park in Rockford.

  
Jeff Kolkey
Posted Dec 29, 2010 @ 08:12 PM
Last update Dec 30, 2010 @ 08:56 PM

ROCKFORD — Pleasant bonfire smoke wafted through Davis Park this week as hundreds enjoyed outdoor skating downtown at Harris Winter Wonderland.

Katie McWilliams of Rockford, who brought her son, Jason Nelson, and his friend Kyle Schulburg, both 12, to skate, sipped hot apple cider while she watched the action.

“They are having a blast,” McWilliams said. “It’s nice, really nice out here to sit back, watch them skate and have fun.”

An average of 185 skaters a day can be found in the park. Since it opened Dec. 3, the Harris Winter Wonderland has attracted 2,959 skaters and will easily top 3,000 before the new year.

Made of a polymer plastic, the skating surface in Davis Park is believed to be the largest synthetic ice skating rink in the world.

The synthetic surface has advantages over ice because the material is consistent, there is almost no maintenance and it works in virtually all weather. It offers a slower skate than natural ice, but acts like ice at higher speeds and some believe it’s a good surface for beginners to learn their way around ice skates.

Kids who slipped and fell within their first few steps on the surface were soon zigging and zagging through the crowds. When Jason and Kyle weren’t slinging snowballs at each other, they were skating just fine.

Jason said it took some time to get used to the synthetic ice, but then it was easy to skate on.

“It was fun,” Kyle said. “It’s like cardboard, but you’re skating on it.”

Sponsored by Harris Bank, the Winter Wonderland is the brainchild of Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority Chairman Mike Dunn. It’s being operated by the Rockford Park District.

And it was made possible not only by sponsorships but also by a small army of trade union members associated with the Northwestern Illinois Building and Construction Trade Council and Project First Rate who volunteered time, expertise and labor.

It may be the destiny of the Winter Wonderland to forever be compared and contrasted with natural ice, but the skating itself isn’t what’s most important, RAVE Authority General Manager Gordon Kaye said.

No, Kaye said, this is about a winter atmosphere, community and family.

“When we first put this thing together, we wanted it to be a community asset and when you go down there and see those faces, you can see it,” Kaye said. “This is not about skating. It really isn’t. Skating is secondary to the experience.”

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