NEWS & EVENTS
Published on December 19
HOLIDAY SKATING RINKS PROVE TO BE BIG DRAWS IN AREA DOWNTOWNS
EUSTIS — Most are wobbling, but they’re not falling down.
At least not after a while, said Eustis’ Director Erin Bailey of the ice skating rink the city debuted for the 2018 holiday season. In just two weeks, the rink has been visited by a whopping 5,000 skaters.
“People are learning quickly. After a few times around, they get brave, they let go and they are having a great time and doing pretty well,” Bailey said. “We’ve had skaters as young as three or four.”
It was the same kind of thing Mount Dora officials witnessed during the Children’s Christmas in the Park Party they hosted Dec. 8. The event featured a shiny plastic-floored “ice” rink brought in for the celebration.
Mount Dora spokeswoman Lisa McDonald said the city took precautions for first-timers, as well.
“Actually, a lot of kids used it and since we knew that many of them would be attempting to skate for the first time, we had these slidable PVC walkers to help them go across the ice. They were actually kind of cool,” said McDonald.
In Eustis, the Ferran Park attraction dubbed “Eustis on Ice,” opened on Nov. 21 and is scheduled to run through January 6.
The 4,000-square-foot rink, complete with real ice being kept frozen by a huge chiller, is being sponsored by a partnership between Eustis and Florida Hospital Waterman and is open seven days a week.
Bailey said it is adding another element to the holiday spirit throughout town, but with that, it is also bringing many people to town.
She said groups from Ocala and Orlando have been bused in to skate, and many schools or school groups from Eustis and other neighboring cities have signed up for Spirit Nights intended to help groups raise money, with a percentage of the proceeds donated back to them.
Some of the downtown businesses, especially the nearby restaurants, have reported an uptick in sales.
“It’s been good. It’s bringing a lot of people to the city,” Bailey said.
If people cannot make it to the Eustis rink before it closes, however, people can look forward to a permanent, year-round ice-skating rink opening soon at Lake Square Mall in Leesburg.
Called “Winterland,” it will feature a 3,300-square-foot professional ice skating rink made of real ice surrounded by a winter village, complete with live entertainment, a projection screen that will display winter images, music videos, light shows and chalets that will house specialty eateries and shops.
Jean-Louis Lacaille and his wife Sarah Abitbol, top ice skaters from France, will run the attraction.
Lacaille and Abitbol will lead demonstrations, weekly and monthly shows, group parties and even offer private lessons for the more ambitious guests.
“There will be ice skating, but the attraction is really the entire experience,” said Lake Square’s managing partner Pierre ZonZon. “People will love the food, too, especially the French crepes.”
Lake Square spokeswoman Anna Marie Chwastiak said the grand opening is right around the corner.
“Winter will officially arrive at the Lake Square Mall in February and it will be amazing,” she said.
Chwastiak said the rubber flooring that will sit underneath the chilling elements arrived Monday and is being installed.
Beyond that, the special ice flooring, made by Synerglace, is making its way through customs in Canada and is expected to arrive late this month.
Mall owner Meir Benzaken said he cannot wait to see people enjoying Winterland.
“We want this to be a destination families can come to for making memories,” Chwastiak said.