Events, new lights boost Farmington ice rink use

Downtown Farmington’s Riley Park Ice Rink closed last week, after a season that brought hundreds of visitors to the city’s central business district.

Harry Potter Skate
Hundreds of skaters turned out for a December Harry Potter-themed event. (Riley Park Ice Rink)

Opened in December of 2013, the rink has had modest use over its first five seasons; special events saw around 200 attendees. But a Harry Potter-themed skate held this past December drew more than 700 adults and children, according ice rink committee chair Melissa Andrade.

The event drew visitors from outside the community and “attendance was phenomenal. We sold out of everything,” she said.

That included pretzel wands made by Sunflour Bakehaus and Andrade’s chocolate frogs. Also, MiMosa and Basement Burger Bar, downtown restaurants, served up “butter beer,” and sold out of the ingredients.

While the ice rink committee doesn’t track attendance, Andrade believes the popular event and new, permanent lighting that makes the park more visible from Grand River combined to increase overall rink use. She said public safety officers who work nights have mentioned seeing more skaters overall. Even the collection of used skates available to borrow grew over the season.

A record 17 dasher-board sponsors signed on and promoted this year’s activities as well. Andrade said she did very little recruiting; businesses and organizations contacted her – as did many who were simply interested in skating.

Riley Park Ice Rink

“A day didn’t go by when someone didn’t call about the rink. All throughout the season, people were dropping off (used) skates at City Hall,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the businesses and organizations, and the community support.”

This year’s sponsors included Century 21, Drop Aquatics, Z Painting, Bellacinos, Dagwoods, Farmington Public Schools, Mi.Mosa, Edward Jones, CMIT Solutions, Earned Not Given Crossfit, Farmington Garage, X1 Realty, Basement Burger Bar, Meadows Fine Wine and Liquor, Howell & Associates, Willson Swykert, and Thornton & Grooms.

The committee is already planning to bring back the Harry Potter event for 2019-2020 and the popular Glow Skate. Valentine’s and karaoke skates were poorly attended and won’t be back, but the Farmington Community Library has been in touch about a “character skate” that would coincide with the release of a new Star Wars movie next December.

“Amazing things are happening,” Andrade said.