Some of my fondest childhood memories are of winters in Boston, sledding in the Boston Common, skiing along the Charles River, and ice skating on the duck pond in the Public Garden.
Ice skating for me was a big part of growing up. My mom taught me how to skate before I could walk. My brother and I spent countless hours with our friends practicing figure eights and playing pick up hockey. I can’t really imagine a childhood without skating.
But now we live in Santa Monica and it’s 75 degrees and sunny most of the year. While it’s certainly not the duck pond in the Boston Public Garden, I’m excited that this year ICE at Santa Monica has added a tot spot adjacent to the main rink, so I can get Addison out on the ice.
We were so excited in fact that we went to the grand opening and had hot cocoa and cookies and watched Randy Gardner and his troop of ice dancers perform with Scrat. We were also there to witness the breaking of the Guinness world record for tallest ice sculpture but nothing could compare to seeing Addison take her first step out onto the ice.
Except she didn’t. Both she and Zora balked and cried “nooooo” at the double runner skates we tried to attach to their shoes. They were more interested in using the benches and railings as a makeshift jungle gym, which was probably just as well since Grandmarie put the kibosh on skating (seems my brother and I didn’t actually skate until we were 3 and 2 1/2 respectively and well after we’d learned to walk). She quickly pointed out the rubber mats offered better protection than most playgrounds. Zora did enjoy putting her hands on the ice and exclaiming, “It’s very cold!”
Klara Molack had better luck with her son Lucas. At 2 1/2 Lucas is already a seasoned skater and has turned in his double runners for big boy skates. After taking a spin around the main rink, he and his mom tested out the tot spot, a 20-by-20 foot rink where Mike Lucas tells us kids of all ages are welcome to learn (as long as they are under 48 inches tall). Lucas was later joined by his buddy Ella Brands (almost 3) and from the looks of things they were all having a ball. Dash also loved to skate at that age, although he spent most of the time falling. That’s why we were thrilled to see an area set aside just for tots. Now we don’t have to worry about the big kids running us over when we crash.
During the day the rink is nice and open, but Assistant Rink Manager Pierre Upshaw tells us things start to really pick up after school when you see kids dragging their parents out onto the ice. Upshaw said the crowds disappear around 4:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., but he recommends stopping by in the evenings. “The conditions are better, and it’s nice and festive with all the holiday lights,” he said. Of course, weekends are packed.
The Gay Café, a nonprofit coffee truck, offers hot dogs, pre-packaged baked goods and specialty coffees. I sampled the coffee, which was delicious. Naturally, their biggest seller is hot cocoa. Proprietor Charlie Rice boasts they sold over 1,000 pounds of chocolate last year.
There are also tents where people can host parties or seek shelter from the elements. Zora had a very successful baby naming party at the rink. The tent was a great place to hide from the sun and nosh on snacks between turns on the ice. There are also several Port-a-Potties.
ICE at Santa Monica is located at 1324 Fifth St. (at Arizona Avenue). It’s open Sunday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight until Jan. 31. The café has the same hours. Admission is $10, including skate rental. They have skates for toddlers size eight and up and double runners for smaller feet.
Find a local calendar, helpful links, and more adventures of Addison, Zora, and Dash at smatoz.blogspot.com.