By NICHOLAS WILLIAMS
Ice skaters and tourists gathered on a rainy Halloween day at Bryant Park to attend the official opening of The Bank Of America Winter Village.
The Winter Village is a yearly event that gives New Yorkers free-admission to a public ice skating rink as well as access to various shopping outlets composed of around 200 market booths including clothing, jewelry, and painting stores. People also have access to a food hall and bar called The Lodge by Urbanspace.
“This configuration is basically what we had for several years now but it’s getting better and better,” Executive Director of Bryant Park Corporation Daniel Biederman said. “It’s really become a holiday tradition.”
Operations Manager of Bryant Park Corporation, Rachel Zurier said she was excited about the new upgrades introduced this year. Upgrades include a price deduction from $20 to $18 for renting skates for a couple of days of the season, and the ability to reserve skate times online instead of having to wait on the line for a skate time.
The rink at Bryant Park is favored most by New Yorkers due to its free admission, as long as they bring their own skates. Other local rinks that require a fee are The Rockefeller Center Rink, Chelsea Piers Rink and Wollman Rink.
“It makes me really happy that people have come out in the rain, I think this is a rink New Yorkers can enjoy,” Zurier said. “Because It’s free admission, it’s very possible to participate and not spend a dime which is really nice and not possible in the other rinks.”
A Cuban tourist, Hanzel Gonzalez, is not a skater but was drawn to the opening by the scenery and the number of people who attended despite the rain.
“It’s New York, it doesn’t matter the weather, it doesn’t matter the rain, the heat, people will still come out,” he said.
Lisa Krieg of Brooklyn said she skated at the rink at least three or four times a week in the past. Her love of skating keeps her coming back and even earned her the nickname of “Ice Queen” in high school, she said.
Another skater, Lionella Shmakalova, attended her first opening of the rink and said that the rink helps lift people’s spirits during winter.
“It’s great, I love it,” she said. “I get to come here during lunch and ice skate. Winter is usually a depressing time for people cause it’s cold and there’s nothing to do and you can’t go outside,.”
The Winter Village runs through March 1.
Photo by Nicholas Williams