By Andreas Butler
For Hometown News
Once again people will get an opportunity to ice skate on the world's most famous beach as the Ice Rink is set to return to the Bandshell in Daytona Beach for a second straight year.
The rink will be open Nov 16 to Jan. 6. Hours are 4-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The cost is $12 per person.
The Ice Rink will be open on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Days.
"I think that this can be a great tradition," said Al Smith, whose company Al Smith Marketing and Productions is operating the ice rink. "It has the potential to grow every year. We also are adding other elements to it.
"The goal is to create family fun entertainment activities for the holidays. It can also bring people and have an economic impact on the beachside during the slow time of the year."
The Ice Rink's goal is to bring in visitors during the slow tourism season.
"I went to both the Volusia County and Daytona Beach government. They both said that we needed more going on," Mr. Smith said. "I came up with ice skating and the lighting ceremony. It is growing. We also are going to do something during the Easter Beach run."
The Ice Rink also has a concession stand and holiday decorations. It is 60 by 80 feet and will be covered by an 88- by 86-foot tent. There will holiday movies and concerts and New Year's Eve events in conjunction with the Ice Rink.
No studies have been done on the economic impact the Ice rink has on businesses, but there is an obvious benefit.
"All of the Ocean Walk Shoppes businesses next to the Bandshell said that they had seen a 60 to 200 percent increase in profits last year from the previous year. That's the figures they gave me," Mr. Smith said.
Al Murro, owner and manager of Cold Stone Creamery in Ocean Walk Shoppes, said, "We fought for it to be here. It has definitely given us a boost by increasing business and helping us out a lot. It brought sales up and people into our store last year. It also was a fun time too with many families showing up. We are glad that it is back."
The Ice Rink also brings another unique experience for those who participate.
"The hook is people can ice skate at the beach while looking out at the ocean. It is unique to our area. It brings a lot of positive energy and enthusiasm," Smith said.
If you cannot skate, there is no need to worry because help is available.
"We are contracted with the Daytona Ice Arena on Ridgewood Avenue in South Daytona," Smith said. "They have professional skaters that can help people put on skates and learn to skate."
Last year the experience was a positive one for those involved.
"It was very well received and brought a lot of positive attention. We had 13,000 skaters and each of them brought people along with them," Mr. Smith said.
He hopes to see the event continue to grow and be around for years to come.
"I think that it will continue to grow. We hope to have at least 15,000 skaters this year," Mr. Smith said. "The first year was the test run. We have a signed a five year contract with the city."