Head downtown and lace up

gabriella patti

Novice skater and Grand Valley State University student, Jaclyn Ermoyan, was nervous when she took her first step out onto the ice. To her surprise, she quickly adjusted to the slippery conditions after a few wobbly attempts around the rink.

“I feel like a boss,­­ I’m not going to lie,” Ermoyan said. “I feel accomplished.”

Everyday from noon to 10 p.m., skaters can be seen on the outdoor Rosa Parks Circle ice rink in downtown Grand Rapids.

The crowd is a mix of ages from young children, to college students, to older folks who have been skating for years. The veteran skaters do figure eights around children who manage to look more competent on the ice than when they walk on solid ground.

The park is not just a destination for tourists and newcomers to the city. For years, many locals have been taking advantage of the skating opportunity. Jesse Dubridge grew up in the greater Grand Rapids area and has been skating for the past five years.

“This is my favorite way to blow off steam,” Dubridge said. “It is my favorite place in Grand Rapids.”

Ermoyan recommends skating to other students who find themselves struggling to come up with ways to have affordable fun on the weekends. She plans to return to the rink later in this week for her second round.

The rink’s central location makes it ideal for a stop during a day outing into the city. It is situated close to several bus stops, stores, restaurants and coffee shops where you can step in to warm up.

The rink is welcoming to all ages and is free of the pressure to be an expert on the ice.

Matt Mann had not skated for 15 years before he moved to Grand Rapids.

“Where I lived before, the nearest skating rink was almost two hours away,” Mann said. “It is nice to have a place to skate that is so close by. Skating is like therapy for me.”

Rosa Parks Circle is the only outdoor ice skating rink in Grand Rapids, making it a seasonal recreation opportunity. The rink opened on Dec. 6 and will remain so until March 9. The rink is free and open for all ages.

Skates are available for rent from the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Skates are free with a valid ID or are available for rent at $1 for children and $2 for adults (18 and older).

The rink is located on the corner of Monroe Avenue and Pearl Street in downtown Grand Rapids.