In an effort to make the 2015 holiday season even bigger than ever, the city of Mobile today announced a Nov. 14 kickoff for “Riverside Ice” — an outdoor ice skating attraction in Cooper Riverside Park, sponsored by Airbus Group.
The total cost of the project is estimated $132,000, but Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said about $80,000 of that has already been donated by about 20 corporate sponsors. That figure includes a $20,000 contribution from Airbus Group, the event’s title sponsor.
“As we strive to create destination Mobile, we realize that it can be done best through the public-private partnership and we realize that our greatest desires as a city can be met,” Stimpson said on Tuesday. “Last year, we promised you a bigger holiday season than ever. How could we possibly top that, well believe it or not, we will.”
Stimpson said the outdoor skating rink would be an added attraction to the holiday season, bringing “festive and jubilant” activities for all ages when it officially opens on Nov. 14.
Riverside Ice will be operation from Nov. 14 through Jan. 12, 2016, and will cost between $8 to $12 depending on the age of skaters. According to city officials, proceeds this year will go toward the city’s parks and recreation department.
However, Stimpson said the addition wouldn’t take away from new attractions the administration started in 2014 — attractions that included things like “Elfapolooza, the snow-filled Winter Wonderland in Cathedral Square and the lighting of the city’s first Menora in Bienville Square.”“This year our children both young and old will experience an amazing holiday celebration,” Stimpson said. “We’re most appreciative of Airbus’ contribution as the title sponsor, which will make it possible to offer our community an amazing opportunity to delight in an outdoor pleasure that we typically don’t see in our neck of the woods.”
Though few specifics about the Nov. 14 kickoff event have been revealed, Stimpson said residents could expect a visit from Santa Claus in Cooper Riverside park, as well as other attractions and vendors that could “decide to latch on.” Still, Stimpson said the focus would be on the skating rink — the first outdoor rink in Mobile’s history.
Though none were discussed directly, it’s possible other events may also target Cooper Riverside Park in the future. Stimpson called it a “beautiful park” and “one of the most under-utilized assets the city has.”
In the long term, Stimpson said his administration wanted to create an atmosphere in the park that encouraged “all citizens want to come down and participate.”
As for the mayor himself, Stimpson said he only needed to try ice skating once to determine it wasn’t one of his strong suits.
“The way my ankles felt for the next week, I decided, ‘I had done it once,’” he told reporters. “There may be an occasion when I do it again, but I haven’t figured out what it will be or who will be able to entice me back on to the ice.”