“It’s like cardboard. I feel like I am in a video game,” said Brendan Waldron, 8, as he skated on Hoboken’s new synthetic “ice” rink under the 14th Street Viaduct. “We got ice skates for Christmas and I’ve been wanting to come here for days, but it just kept on raining and raining.”
Hoboken’s first skating rink – created with plastic “ice” — opened Thursday, Dec. 22 under the recently revamped Viaduct and will remain open until Feb. 28.
The rink, located between Grand and Adams streets in a growing former industrial neighborhood, is made of synthetic polymer. The polymer is swept, power washed, and glazed over at least once a week with “vegetable substance” according to Director of Environmental Services Leo Pellegrini.
The 3,100-square-foot rink was donated by Advance Realty, the developer of the new luxury Harlow apartment building a block away. The cost was $25,000.
The rink is staffed primarily by city employees, whose cost is reimbursed by the cost of skate rentals: $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Sizes start at 8 for kids. The rental fees also cover the rink’s daily maintenance. Leftover funds go to the Recreation Department.
The rink will be open on weekdays from 3:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The rink may be closed due to rain, according to Pellegrini, who said that was the case this past Tuesday. It was also closed for New Year’s as City Hall was. Pellegrini said the best place to check for hours is the city’s website and social media pages (the Reporter’s Twitter account, hudson_reporter, also informed residents of the New Year’s closing).
Rules and food
The rinks rules state guests of the rink must sign a waiver before skating at their own risk, skater must be at least 4 years old and 36” tall, children must be supervised, street shoes aren’t permitted on the skating surface, and nor is food or drink. Skaters must get up quickly after a fall, operators have the right to refuse business and restrict activities, and skater who fail to follow the rules will be asked to leave.
Skating is free for those who have their own skates, noted Migdalia Pagan-Milano, who was working in skate rental last week.
“We have a range of sizes,’’ said Pagan-Milano, assistant to the city’s Administrator of Cultural Affairs Geri Fallo.
“Kids really love it and spend an hour or two here,” said Pagan-Milano. “The music is going and the Pilsner Haus is here selling hot chocolate and food. It’s a good time.”
She said the rink tends to be busiest on Tuesdays, as they catch a lot of people heading to Bow Tie Cinemas for discounted movies.
“On weekends we saw at least 150 people,” she said.
Thomas Patrick Schneider III, who works for the Pilsener Haus & Biergarten at 1422 Grand St., said he has been to the rink every day since its opened to help set up and sell pretzels and hot apple cider as well as other food and drink. “The Pilsener Haus was looking for ways to get more involved in the community in any way we can, and we were happy to be here and do this,” he said.
“There have been a lot of kids and families here,” said Schneider. “A few were taken aback by the plastic, but once they were skating, it didn’t seem to bother anyone.”
Pellegrini has heard a lot of feedback from the community, and most like the synthetic rink.
“A lot of families like having the rink because its easier for small children to learn to skate as it is slower than ice,” he said. “ Ice is much more difficult and hard. We think there will be much fewer injuries because it is softer and not as slick.”
Pellegrini said he received a few comments from people who wished it were real ice, but “Those are mostly adults who are already good skaters.”
John Erickson, age 27, from Bloomfield, was one such skater.
He tried the rink for the first time Wednesday Jan. 4 after work and said, “I saw it was in town and figured I would give it a shot. It’s very interesting. It’s pretty slow and not as glidey. It just didn’t feel like real ice. “
Erickson said he grew up playing hockey, so he is used to real ice.
Christian Castro, age 27, who lived here for 15 years, said, “It’s not like real ice, but it’s cool and safer because it’s not as slippery.”
“I understand why they aren’t using ice. It’s so difficult to maintain, but I prefer the ice because it’s more authentic but ill still enjoy skating here,” said Castro.
Owen Martin, 13, brought his own skates to try out the rink after school Wednesday, Jan. 4.
“It’s much bigger than I expected it to be. I usually go to the one in Pershing Field in Jersey City, but this is only a few blocks from school,” said Martin. “I hope it comes back next year.”
Sue Waldron, mother of three, brought her children to the rink Wednesday evening.
“Mom! Look, I did a spin!”—Elizabeth Waldron
“It’s nice having something like this in our area, in such close walking distance,” she said. “There are other places to go but this has such a convenience factor.”
“I like that I can skate and it’s close to our house,” said Sean Waldron, age 6. “Why don’t they just pour a lot of water and make ice and skate on that?”
“Mom, mom, look! I did a spin!” shouted Sue Waldron’s youngest, Elizabeth, age 4 in her blue tiara Frozen themed helmet.
Marilyn Baer can be reached at email@example.com.