There’s something about the feel of the crisp air on your skin and the sounds of laughter and squeals of delight set amidst a wintery backdrop that create a sense of magic and wonder that can only be found during the holiday season. And when you’re viewing it all through the lens of the snow globe-like setting of an outdoor ice-skating rink as the blades of your skates grip the ice under your feet, the wonderland fantasy becomes even more festive—and all the more magical.
Sure, you could try to recapture that feeling in one of the indoor ice rinks set up during the winter months when people in the South get into the mindset of wanting ice and snow and all things “winteresque”—even if they’re not strictly a commonly occurring phenomenon. But being in the confines of a great big, boxy structure that echoes with artificiality and shuts out the ingredients of fresh air and open sky so important to the mix is like hot chocolate without the marshmallows…close, but not quite all the way there.
Creating the perfect setting isn’t always simple, however, as having an outdoor space large enough in an urban area where so much land is already developed and paradise has been paved over by a parking lot often tables the very idea of setting up shop for an outdoor rink. So many moving parts must be taken into account—generating proper conditions, securing staff, and acquiring the necessary financing—that it’s not always feasible to take things outside. But rather than letting obstacles keep the plans for a rink on ice, the fine minds behind the development project at Clarksville’s own Downtown Commons used some of their green space to build a public rink that will definitely bring the magic this winter.
“Since taking office as Mayor, I have heard numerous times that we lack activities for young people and families, and this is one of the reasons we pushed so hard to get the ice rink open this year—even though the rest of the Downtown Commons is not yet finished,” says Montgomery County Mayor Jim Durrett. “We really hope to bring more people into our downtown to shop and eat while taking in this awesome outdoor ice skating experience. Without a downtown core, the community lacks a heartbeat, but this is another step in our revitalization.”
Having set things off with their inaugural skate on November 24, the rink will stay open until January 31st, with extended holiday hours beginning December 18th, making time on the ice available to a wider range of people during this busy time of year. And with its holiday-ready setting in the heart of downtown Clarksville, the rink couldn’t have a more ideal location, as the Montgomery County Christmas tree will also be located on-site to keep things merry and bright.
“I have a friend in South Dakota who says that no matter how many times you ice skate inside an arena, nothing is like ice skating under the open sky,” says Montgomery County Event Planning Manager Paula Atkins. “I’m a nostalgic person, and I look forward to seeing families and friends come together this holiday season and for many years after to enjoy the ice rink. It’s such a great way to make memories and to start new traditions.”
And isn’t tradition what makes Christmas all the more special? Those are the things we share as family and friends—and as a community. The things that remind us of what’s important and bring us closer together, especially in the fast-paced lives we lead that so often leave us with little time to spend with one another. Those are the intangible gifts that we pass down—and certainly something that Montgomery County hopes will be a gift of this ice rink in the years to come.
Of course, outdoor ice rinks have a season—and once that season closes, the rink in Downtown Commons will be removed and replaced with grass to create an inviting space for study areas, picnics, and outdoor office meetings as well as concerts, tastings, and a wide variety of other fun cultural and community events.
Suit up, lace up your skates, and get ready to hit the rink—this is one winter wonder you won’t want to miss.
For more information on rink hours and admission rates, visit www.downtowncommons.org.