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Winter Delights in Central Park

Lia Chang

Gliding on fresh ice in a pair of skates is sheer bliss.

Gliding across fresh ice in a pair of skates is sheer bliss. My last fond memory of skating is at the age of twelve on an indoor ice skating rink in San Francisco, with visions of Olympic gold swirling in my head. A sport I dabbled in as a child, it is one of the few athletic pursuits I enjoy.

On this lazy Sunday afternoon, I hook up with Dustin Ross, a photographer friend, at the Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park . Young lovers, parents with chubby cheeked children and groups of teenagers have come out to play on the ice on this warm winter day. The 50-degree temperature makes the hour-long wait bearable. As we pay our admission fee, the ice is being resurfaced. Just as I finish lacing up my skates, a voice resonates over the loudspeaker calling the eager skaters to the ice.

Dustin is the perfect companion to skate with. A three-time state champion on the Aspen Avalanche Ice Hockey Team while growing up in Colorado, he started skating at age six and makes me feel at ease being back on the ice.

A grand time is had by all. Many skaters glide effortlessly without falling, while others hug the sides of the rink for dear life. Street wear is the mode of choice, from fleece tracksuits, to jeans and chunky sweaters topped by ski parkas of all lengths. Colorful knit caps, scarves and leather gloves finish off the ensembles.

Over 650 people are on the ice yet I feel as if Dustin and I are alone as we circle the ice at our own rhythm and pace, listening to the music filtering over the loudspeakers. The New York City skyline is visible over the bare branches of the trees and at twilight, the changing colors of the sky are a sight to behold. Skating in the evening at Wollman Rink can be a romantic affair, sweeter still with a Carmel apple and a cup of hot chocolate topped with whipped cream.

The Wollman Skating Rink was built in Central Park in 1943, following designs developed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvin Vaux. The Rink has inspired other urban parks including Brooklyn's Prospect Park and Mount Royal Park in Montreal. New York philanthropist Kate Wollman, in memory of her daughter, donated funds for the parks development.

Open for skating from November through March, Wollman Rink is located in the Southern part of Central Park on the East Side between 62nd and 63rd Streets. The fee for skating on the weekdays is $8.50, $11 on the weekend. Bring your own skates or rent them for $4.75. There is an additional fee to rent a lock for the lockers. Call 212-439-6900 for seasonal hours.

Directions:
Entering Central Park at Grand Army Plaza (East 59th Street and Central Park South), take a stroll alongside the Pond and the music playing at the Rink will beckon you to enjoy a day of winter delights.