Ice rink will return to Riverside’s 2017 Festival of Lights
After a decade on the Main Street mall, skating will move to White Park this fall.
The popular but expensive ice skating rink at Riverside’s Festival of Lights will be back this holiday season, but in a new location.
The City Council decided Tuesday, July 11, to put an ice rink at White Park for the first time.
The site is not ideal, officials agreed, but it’s less costly than the previous spot on Main Street between University and Mission Inn avenues, and each of three other possible locations brought some difficulty or concern.
Councilman Mike Gardner said activities associated with the Festival of Lights would likely move toward White Park eventually because the Main Street mall has grown crowded.
“I think the ice rink is important to us,” Gardner said. “I’m really concerned that if we don’t do the ice rink this year it will be that much harder to get it next year.”
As the Festival of Lights has grown, the Mission Inn – which founded the event – has added more lights and a fireworks display, and the city has increased live entertainment, vendors and other attractions.
After debuting in 2006, the ice rink returned every year at city expense until 2016, when a construction project took over its spot on the Main Street mall north of City Hall.
The rink added to the festival’s family-friendly charm, but it always ran at a loss. Last year the city brought in other attractions – a mini train, carousel and Ferris wheel – to replace the ice skating, and they cost less and were a hit with visitors.
But several residents told the council the ice rink is a nice feature.
“People look forward to it every year,” resident Phyllis Purcell said. “I think it’s a very good investment for the kids and for the whole community.”