Kate Cagle

Daily Press Staff Writer

Locals can lace up their skates once again as Downtown Santa Monica welcomes the holiday season with the grand opening of Ice at Fifth Street and Arizona Avenue.

“Ice at Santa Monica has become so much more than just an outdoor ice skating rink,” said Kevin Herrera, senior marketing manager for Downtown Santa Monica, Inc.

“It has become a beloved community gathering place where friends, family and neighbors come to celebrate the holiday season and make lasting memories.”

Skate for free tonight from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. while enjoying a DJ and performances by some of California’s most elite skaters.

Guests are encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped gift or gift card to support the PAL Best Ever Toy Drive, which directly benefits children in Santa Monica.

“We have some new food venders this year we are pretty excited about,” Herrera said.

Those venders include three of the new tenants at the nearby Gallery Food Hall: STRFSH (fish sandwiches), Everytable (healthy bowls), and Sloans’s Ice Cream.

The 8,000 square foot rink officially opened Nov. 1 and stays frozen until Jan. 15. Avoid the crowds by heading to the rink sooner rather than later.

The rink tends to fill up further into the holiday season once school lets out and kids and teenagers have more hours to burn on the ice. Last year nearly 60,000 people visited the rink during the two-and-a-half month season.

Outside of the free opening celebration, it costs $15 to skate (including rentals) and a wristband allows customers to come and go from the rink all day. Locker rentals cost $5. Spectators can enter and watch free of charge.

The rink is open Monday – Thursday from 2 – 10 p.m., Fridays from 2 p.m. to midnight, Saturdays from 10 a.m. to midnight and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cabanas are available to rent for parties and large groups.

The Randy Gardner School of Skating provides lessons with experienced professionals for skaters of all skill levels. Anyone interested can find links to schedule private lessons with individual coaches as www.downtownsm.com.

“We’ve had kids learn how to skate at Ice and then return to help us run the rink,” Herrera said. “Every year it’s wonderful to see all the familiar faces return, from the rink staff to our loyal skaters.”

Organizers use treated urban runoff water to make the ice by slowly allowing thin layers to freeze over food-grade glycol, according to Herrera. The technical term for Santa Monica’s rink is ‘mechanically frozen’ rather than ‘artificial.

’ Ice pulls from the City’s 100 percent renewable energy grid to create a sustainable, frozen rink just five blocks from the beach.

“It’s as environmentally sound as possible,” Herrera said.

The outdoor rink is subject to certain weather conditions – enough rain can cause a closure if the ice becomes dangerous. However, summer-like temperatures during the winter months are not a problem.

kate@smdp.com

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