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Monday, September 27, 2021

The plans to open an ice rink downtown have been delayed again. But the city hopes to appease any frustrated patrons by offering some holiday fun for free.

The ice rink, previously scheduled to open today, will open Monday in the Bo Diddley Community Plaza. The rink will offer free entry — skates included — until Wednesday.

The rink will stay open until Jan. 13. After Wednesday, skating will cost $10 an hour. If a patron brings his or her own ice skates, the price is $7 an hour.

Midwest Display Inc., the holiday-display company managing the rink, had technical difficulties installing the tent that will house the Plaza Ice Palace.

Russell Etling, city cultural affairs programs coordinator, said there were some issues getting the 35-foot-tall tent installed. The tent houses the custom-made ice rink, and the rink can’t be frozen until the tent is finished.

The finished project will include lighting displays across the plaza and holiday-themed murals on the plywood walls surrounding the ice.

The downtown plaza has been without an annual ice rink since the city-funded ice rink shut down in 2007 due to budget issues, according to Alligator archives. Midwest Display Inc. brought the rink back this year and is setting up the ice rink at its own expense as a vendor.

“Everybody is very excited about it opening and returning to Gainesville,” Etling said. “It’s a great opportunity for family fun and celebrating the holiday season.”

Contact Meredith Rutland at mrutland@alligator.org.

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