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The Virginian — Pilot (Norfolk, VA.)
VIRGINIA BEACH — Sharpen up those blades, ice skaters, there's a new rink in town.
With just a hint of winter in the air, VB ICE, a 100-by-50 foot outdoor rink made its debut Saturday morning at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market on Dam Neck Road.
Children took tentative steps along the oval's edge, their small hands gripping the wall or a parent's hand. A couple shared a first anniversary skate, while rink monitors glided effortlessly in their blue jackets and red first aid fanny packs.
Pop music played above the "chuush chuush" of blades scratching across the ice.
"Hi, boo!" Jake Annarino called to his 5-year-old daughter, Veronica, from the sidelines. "Skate to me all by yourself. Push with your toe — there you go."
With outstretched arms and a helping hand from her mom, Veronica slowly made her way from the center of the rink to grip the wall where her father stood. It was Veronica's first time on the ice, according to her mom, Natalia.
They hadn't planned to skate, Natalia said; just to check it out.
"It's cute," Natalia said of the rink. "It's so nice."
According to Jody Cadwell, co-owner of Boardwalk Attractions, the rink is just the beginning.
By phone Friday, Cadwell said he envisions a Christmas village — something akin to Coleman Nursery's Winter Wonderland, a popular, decades-old holiday tradition in Portsmouth that included animated displays before it closed in 2004, according to Pilot archives.
(The holiday collection can still be seen in Olde Towne, according to the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center's website.)
Next weekend, Christmas tree vendors will fill in around him, Cadwell said, and he plans to have a children's Ferris wheel and a tea cup ride in time for holiday break. The market already has a wide selection of vendors, he noted. He'd like to see more holiday lighting and scenes added each year, he said.
The VB ICE rink is developed by Boardwalk Attractions and Houston-based Ice Rink Events, Cadwell said.
The Farmers Market is city-owned and operated. In September, the City Council approved the funding for more than $167,000 in electrical upgrades — a transfer of leftover money from the Housing Resource Center project — to enable seasonal events, such as the ice skating rink, as well as eliminate gas generators, according to a presentation provided by a city spokeswoman last week.
It's not the first outdoor rink, nor is it the only one. The Oceanfront boasted one in 2014, according to Pilot archives, and Norfolk's MacArthur on Ice opened this weekend as well, according to the mall's website.
On Saturday, VB ICE venue manager Ashley Moody said they're testing the water at the Farmers Market — "or the ice, if you will."
Joseph Pallazzo was introducing his daughter, Elisabeth, to ice skating Saturday. He plays on an adult hockey league, he said, but it was the 6-year-old's first time.
"It's OK to fall," Pallazzo told Elisabeth after she slipped. "Daddy falls all the time."
Sporting a sparkly pink hooded top, the little girl wiped the powdered ice from her hands and got back on her feet. Gripping the wall, she prepared to take on another loop. Her confidence was increasing, her father noted.
"Watch daddy," she said.
Victoria Bourne, 757-222-5563, firstname.lastname@example.org
More info: vbice.com or www.facebook.com/VBIceSkating.
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