HARTFORD —— With the opening ceremony just days away, organizers of the city's annual Winterfest celebration are seeking new or gently used skates, hats and gloves.
Event Director Bob Crawford said about 400 pairs of skates will be available for rental when the ice rink opens Friday at Bushnell Park. But many of those are on loan from Crawford's own ice rinks — in Cromwell, Simsbury and Bolton — and organizers are hoping to get another 100 to 200 pairs.
Skating will run through Jan. 21. The rink features free skating, rentals and lessons.
Last year's festival drew about 50,000 skaters, Crawford said, and only about 50 of the 250 pairs of donated skates from last year are still usable.
"We're constantly sharpening the skates, and putting in new laces," he said. "Every day you get at least five to 10 uses per pair of skates."
Skates, hats and gloves can be dropped off at the XL Center, city hall, the Bushnell Park ice rink or any of Crawford's three rinks (the Bolton Ice Palace, the International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury and the Champions Skating Center in Cromwell). Organizers are also seeking monetary donations. Drop boxes are set up at the various locations, Crawford said.
LAZ Parking has committed to donating $10,000, which will also be used to purchase skates, Crawford said.
Winterfest begins Friday with an opening ceremony at 5 p.m. A procession that includes Mayor Pedro Segarra and Santa Claus will start at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch and proceed to the skating rink. Skating will open for the season at 6 p.m.
The park will be adorned with white lights at the entrances, as well as on trees and poles. The traditional holiday tree — this time, featuring a miniature version of the Colt Dome as a topper — also will be illuminated.
Public skating hours are noon to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and noon to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day hours are noon to 4 p.m., and New Year's Eve hours are noon to 1 a.m.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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