.Downtown Ice’s Return

Families to enjoy ice skating beginning Nov. 17

Outdoor ice skating will return to downtown San Jose’s annual holiday celebration next month.

Special Ice, which has the largest portfolio of seasonal ice rinks in the western U.S., has agreed to produce and operate the downtown San Jose skating rink in the Circle of Palms plaza this season, the San Jose Downtown Association announced last week. The rink will be open Nov. 17 through mid-January.

“Downtown Ice is an iconic event that leaves a lasting impression,” said Emery Lykins, president of Special Ice, based in Livermore. “We’re excited to be a part of the rink’s history, to contribute to this amazing city and hopefully usher in a revitalized future for the rink.”

Since starting business in 2011, Special Ice has been involved in California rinks including Embarcadero Center in San Francisco, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Sacramento, Santa Monica, Great America in Santa Clara and Sea World in San Diego. Special Ice locations across the country have included Fenway Park in Boston and Dollywood near Knoxville, Tenn.

“I am thrilled to have our iconic ice rink back alongside all the many fun holiday-related activities in downtown San Jose that enrich families and people of all ages,” said Alex Stettinski, San Jose Downtown Association CEO. “More and more, families are looking for things they can experience together. We’re in good hands having the largest producer of seasonal ice rinks in the state on board with us.”

Rink organizer San Jose Downtown Association, moved to keep the skating tradition alive downtown during the holidays in 2022 after the previous ice rink producer did not renew. Aloha Skate owner Liz Ruiz stepped up to host a circular roller-skating rink under the palms for the holidays.

“People enjoyed roller skating, but we heard loud and clear that families and friends from all parts of Northern and Central California missed their tradition of coming to skate at our ice rink,” said Tricia Lee McNabb, who has managed rink operations since 1997.

“It’s increasingly important that Downtown Ice keeps coming back, especially in the wake of Raging Waters’ recent closing,” McNabb said, noting Great America in Santa Clara is also slated to shut down its operations in less than 10 years. 

“Events like Downtown Ice carry the torch by providing true family experiences at the time of year when people are starved for them,” said Lykins. “Yes, it’s a business and it can be tough, but that all goes away when you’re at the rink hearing the music and the kids laughing. Plus, you find the big burly dad on skates who isn’t afraid of anything, and he falls in front of the family and kids and gets up smiling. Those are great experiences to see and be a part of–and makes the whole event worthwhile.”

Up to a half million people come to downtown San Jose to enjoy Downtown Ice, Christmas in the Park holiday displays, Winter Wonderland amusement rides, plus performing arts, concerts, Sharks hockey, museums and galleries, restaurants and shopping from Halloween through mid-January.

Visit sjdowntown.com for events and downtown details, and parksj.org for parking information.

Downtown Ice is located at 120 S. Market Street, in the Circle of Palms plaza. Construction of the rink begins Oct. 2.  Details including tickets, dates, hours and sessions will become available at sjdowntownice.com.

Downtown Ice is supported by the City of San Jose.

barry holtzclaw, managing editor sanjoseinside
Barry Holtzclawhttp://sanjoseinside.com/
Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with Weeklys Publishing since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.

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