17,000 enjoy Clipper Ice Park
BY DAVID O'CONNOR, Staff Writer
A good two dozen ice skaters circled in the sunshine, resplendent in a wide mix of colors to the sounds of U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)."
There were a mix of young couples and families, with the occasional lone skater circling among them.
The busy scene from the final day of the Ice Park at Clipper Magazine Stadium on Presidents Day was repeated often this winter, park organizers said.
The rink attracted about 17,000 skaters to its public sessions this winter, a slight decline from the 20,000 or so who came out in 2011-12, said Lisa Riggs, president of the Lancaster Barnstormers, which operates the stadium.
Riggs said participation may have been down because the rink added skating classes, hockey tournaments and other events this year that cut down on public skating time. She did not have figures on how many people participated in the new activities.
Despite some weather difficulties -- including too-warm temperatures followed by high wind in late January -- "it was a solid year at the Ice Park," Barnstormers' vice president Anthony DeMarco said.
"People just have a wonderful time. It's a great way to spend a winter day ... get out, skate outside and just enjoy being in the stadium," he added.
"There's something neat about the music blaring, especially on a (slightly warmer) 40- or 45-degree day, the music's playing, and the sun is shining."
There were two hockey tournaments during the 2012-13 season at the ice rink, plus a series of learn-to-skate lessons that may create the next generation of hockey players, figure skaters and recreational skaters, team officials said.
Riggs said it's too early to say whether the new activities, offered in partnership with Regency Ice Rink, will be offered next year.
This past skating season, the rink's seventh at the minor-league baseball team's ballpark, attendance was running ahead of 2011-12 before the high hit 64 degrees in late January.
The unseasonable weather was followed the next day by high winds, which briefly forced the ice rink to close.
The rink opened just before the Christmas holiday season and was open mainly for evening and weekend skating hours.
Added Barnstormers' general manager Kristen Simon, "It was definitely a successful season, and we were thrilled once again to provide such a unique experience to the county."