A Silicon Valley winter chill was in the air and ice skate blades flashed and slashed across the ice of the Winter Ice Rink in downtown Sunnyvale for its grand opening ceremony Nov. 19 at sunset.
The world’s most famous beagle—Snoopy—was larger than life in a Santa suit, showing off his ice skating prowess to onlookers that included 30 children from the families of Sunnyvale Community Services’ clients.
The children were invited to be the season’s first ice skaters by Winter Ice Rink lead sponsor Google. Additionally, an anonymous donor gave each child a $25 gift certificate to Leigh’s Favorite Books on Murphy Avenue.
“This is the start of the holiday spirit, and I know you all have it,” Sunnyvale Community Services Executive Director Marie Bernard told ceremony attendees.
Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein thanked the city partners who brought the ice skating rink, which debuted in 2019, back to downtown after a hiatus in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m overjoyed we’re bringing this back to Sunnyvale,” said Klein. “It took multiple partnerships, including between Sunnyvale and CityLine Sunnyvale (the city’s downtown redevelopment project).”
Colorfully costumed figure skaters from the San Francisco Ice Theatre and Team USA member Angela Wang performed, showing attendees what is possible with years of practice.
Seven-year-old twin reindeer Vienna and Naomi Ng have been skating since they were three and a half.
“Performing here gives them a great chance to showcase what they’ve learned the last four years,” said their parents, Cory Lam and Tom Ng from Alameda.
Winter Ice Rink, open Nov. 19 through Jan. 2, 2022, is in downtown Sunnyvale in the parking lot between AMC Theatres and the restaurants and shops lining Historic Murphy Avenue. Timed admission tickets ($15, including skates) are available for purchase online only, not on site. Skaters 12 or older must show ID and proof of full COVID-19 vaccination.
Winter Ice Rink is operated by Willy Bietak Productions, Inc., which specializes in ice skating shows and portable ice rinks. Bietak is a retired Austrian world figure skating champion.
Downtown Ice in San Jose, newly managed by Willy Bietak, also opened Nov. 19 and operates daily through Jan. 9, 2022. It is in the Circle of Palms between the San Jose Museum of Art and the Fairmont Hotel.
Santa Clara Ice, which operated in Central Park from 2015 through 2019, is not returning this year.
“The pandemic impacted the City’s budget, so due to budget constraints and reduced staffing resources citywide, we are not hosting the ice-skating rink and program,” said Lon Peterson, Santa Clara Director of Communications.
Instead, the Parks and Recreation Department is focusing on Santa Clara’s Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony with Santa, entertainment and a snow park on Dec. 3 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Sunnyvale’s Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration is downtown on Dec. 4 from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
“An active, kid-friendly environment with an ice rink in the middle of a beautiful city like ours is just a joy,” said Sunnyvale Mayor Klein.