WENATCHEE – With loud pop music, dim lighting, and dozens of teenagers sliding down an oval, public ice skating returned to Town Toyota Center on Friday.
The rink is permitted to open to the public in areas of Phase 3 of Governor Jay Inslee’s reopening plan.
“So, during phase 3, we decided to try to see how the population will react to the return to skating, because it is allowed”, declared France Bédard, person in charge of the ice rink.
The Weinstein Beverage Rink has only been open to private groups since COVID-19 restrictions began over a year ago, and even that use has been sporadic, Bedard said.
Over the past year, rink staff have seen their working hours cut back, but they’ve been busy cleaning up, renovating the rink, as Bedard said, and helping a food bank operated at Town Toyota. Center.
“So it’s very exciting for us to be able to offer public skating to the community,” said Bedard.
The rink was once again open for public skating on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will be open Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. It is not yet known whether the Town Toyota Center will host public skating again next week. (Check the Town Toyota Center Facebook page for updates.)
Capacity is limited to 125 people, including staff, on the rink side of the Town Toyota Center. Masks are mandatory on the ice and inside the building. The facility is sanitized before and after public skates, Bédard said.
On Friday the rink opened at 7:00 p.m. and at 7:15 p.m. there were over 60 skaters.
“I think it’s pretty cool – a lot of people get the shot and I feel like a lot of people need it because a lot of people are depressed,” said Elizabeth Gomez of East Wenatchee. “I feel like it motivates people to go out and do something.”
She learned to skate five or six years ago when her cousin was working at the arena, but she last went there about two years ago. On Friday she came with friends and her younger brother.
One of those friends, Jazmine Mejia from Wenatchee, said that the visit to the rink was once a regular occurrence.
“I actually skated a lot because my brother played hockey,” said Mejia. “So we used to come here every Saturday.”
For high school freshman Katy Putnam and her friend Kaydence Schumacher, free ice was a welcome change.
“I haven’t been here for a very long time so it’s really fun,” Putnam said.
Putnam is from Wenatchee and Schumacher was visiting him from Seattle.
“I think it’s great, I’m glad it’s open,” Schumacher said.
Putnam enjoys skating every Friday when the arena is open, although neither she nor Schumacher has skated since late 2019 or early 2020. The effects of this long hiatus have been limited, she said.
“It’s really fun,” Putnam said. “My muscle memory has started.”