Coney Island’s Abe Stark Sports Center teamed up with a bevy of local elected officials last week to give the People’s Playground a present for the holidays: four free days of family skating at the ice rink.
Brooklynites were invited to bring their little ones to the West 19th Street rink from Dec. 27 through 30 for fun times on the ice.
Councilmember Ari Kagan, one of the event’s sponsors, lauded the “family oriented holiday experience” at the end of another tough year for many.
“When you make hundreds of families happy in the holiday season, especially kids, that’s the reason,” Kagan told Brooklyn Paper, “to give a chance for kids and Coney Island to have a fun time on the ice, skating. It’s an opportunity to have fun with parents and grandparents in some in cases, and to enjoy the holiday time.”
That was wonderful! 350+ community residents, including kids of all ages & backgrounds, enjoyed an opportunity of a free skating @ Abe Stark Ice Rink. TY, Dennis Quirk & your team from Abe Stark, for all the assistance! TY to all sponsors & elected officials, for your support!1/2 pic.twitter.com/4i7yhm2aXJ
— Council Member Ari Kagan (@CMAriKagan47) December 27, 2022
Nearly 350 people came out to relish in the winter pastime, Kagan estimated — among them, locals of all walks of life. The local councilmember said a diverse crowd came in from all across Brooklyn including Bensonhurst, Seagate, Bay Ridge and Coney Island. Skaters of all ages gathered on the ice for winter fun, followed by complimentary hot cocoa.
“Children were happy. Everyone was happy to be honest,” he said. “You can see in the pictures, they’re happy, they’re excited. Everybody enjoyed themselves.”
The free skate isn’t new to the Abe Stark Sports Center — prior to the pandemic, it was hosted annually for two days every December and February. Gearing up for its long-awaited return, Kagan said the rink — and his office — had to overcome logistical hurdles to make the event happen. To help smooth things over, the New York City Parks Department served as a liaison for organizers and sponsors, so families could get out on the ice for free for the first time since 2020.
Other sponsors included Starbucks, which catered holiday treats, and Emblem Health, which gave out roughly 300 children’s scarves to attendees. Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso also got in on the fun.
“I’m so honored to team up with our partners and my fellow elected officials to bring free family ice skating to Brooklyn,” the beep said in a statement. “Families will make so many beautiful winter memories together at Abe Stark Skating Rink: some kids might be learning to skate for the first time, others may already be skating circles around their parents. No matter what, these four days will be filled with laughter, winter cheer, and a lesson in picking yourself up and trying again when you fall.”
During its busiest season, the sports center paused all of the normal hustle and bustle, giving families more time to enjoy the winter break. In the New Year, the rink will continue to operate at its normal hours and prices.