After attracting more than 22,000 skaters in its debut this winter, organizers declared Lexington's first commercial outdoor skating rink a success.
"We had another 40,000 to 50,000 people ... who came out to watch," said Steve Grossman, president of the Triangle Foundation, which built The Unified Trust Co. Ice Rink in Triangle Park and contributes to its upkeep. The foundation underwrote the costs for building and operating the rink. "We're really happy with the way it went," he said.
The rink, which opened in mid-November, closed Sunday. During the next several days, tents will come down, and Oasis Special Events will dismantle the 60-by-85 foot rink. The panels will be stored in the Lexington Center. Crews are scheduled to remove the chiller Friday.
"People would tell us this was a good value — admission was only $10. Skates were provided, and you could skate for an hour and a half," said Matt Vincent, a Kettle Korn vendor.
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Sometimes on the weekends, the ice was filled with skaters — of varying degrees of ability — and a line of adults and children waited for their turns.
"It was definitely a festival atmosphere. It brought out families, and couples on date night. People liked being outside," he said. "You have to consider Lexington never had anything like this before."
The goal was to bring people downtown and give them something new to do, Vincent said. Even though crowds weren't as large as they are for Thursday Night Live in Cheapside Park during the summer, it allowed Vincent to keep several employees working this winter.
The rink was supervised by Dennis Hyde, manager of Lexington Ice Center on Eureka Springs Drive. From his perspective, "It went extremely well from the time it opened through New Year's," he said.
Interest dropped off after Jan. 1, "especially during the week, because everybody was back in school and back at work. But on the whole, everybody was thrilled," Hyde said. "If it hadn't rained as much, it would have had even better attendance."
After the rink is removed, Triangle Park will be closed to complete renovations that began in May. The 30-year-old park is undergoing a number of changes, including new sidewalks and the addition of an outdoor café that is being built in Monticello. The café is expected to arrive at the end of February. Sod will be laid, beds of English ivy planted and other details taken care of to make sure the park is in tip-top condition for its rededication April 10.
The park could provide plenty of entertainment opportunities for visitors. Plans are being finalized for Fountain Flicks, a Friday night movie series during the summer, and a Sunday afternoon concert series. And the YMCA of Central Kentucky will offer yoga and pilates classes in the park.