By Cassandra Castillo, Assistant Features Editor—
Chattanooga’s popular seasonal skating rink “Ice on the Landing” opened Nov. 13 at the Chattanooga Choo Choo and is set to open every day until Jan. 26, weather permitting.
The rink’s opening day started at 6pm and ended at 11pm. They offered a live performance by Organist Buddy Shirk from 6pm to 7pm and played music from one of their sponsors throughout the rest of the first night.
Instead of the usual 150 skaters allowed per session, the rink is limited to half capacity this particular winter season. On opening day, plenty of guests were in attendance, so as one session took place, others waited in line to receive their tickets.
Reducing the number of skaters on the rink at a time allows everyone to keep a safe distance, but it could also make wait times longer than in previous years. Guests are given colored wristbands to differentiate skating sessions, which last 80 minutes each.
Not much else has changed compared to past iterations of Ice on the Landing. Normally, guests wait in a line heading into a tent where they purchase their tickets and receive the ice skates; this year, due to COVID precautions, people are expected to stay six feet apart from other groups while in line. They have set up plexiglass along the counters and masks are being sold as part of the Ice on the Landing merchandise.
Manager of Ice on the Landing Breck Stewart has gone to great lengths to keep the venue as sanitary and safe as possible.
“We’re taking a few extra precautions this year just to be COVID safe and healthy,” he said. “We put up sanitizing stations. We are wiping down our buddies that help you skate. In between each session we are wiping down all the railing out on the rink. We’re also sanitizing our skates and wiping them down, just taking every extra precaution we can.”
Most benches are set up inside the tent for guests to put on or take off their skates, so it could be a challenge to find a space where people can be socially distanced. There are also a few benches placed outside.
Skating lessons are still offered from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on a first come, first serve basis on Saturdays. Adults and children are welcome to join before they officially open for the day.
“If you come an hour early on Saturdays, so 9 o’clock, just show up,” Stewart said. “You don’t have to make a reservation. We have someone here, we have someone Saturday, and already have several people next Saturday.”
Their hours can be found on their website or on the Ice on the Landing facebook page where updates about closures or events are posted. Times are adjusted for winter break and the holidays. Inclement weather will prevent them from operating, so checking their facebook is ideal before arriving.