Free ice skating in downtown Kent brings community to town – Kent Wired

Kent skates opened November 20 with free rentals and fun for the public. The ice rink is located near the Kent State University Hotel and Conference Center. It will offer a snack and drink stand as well as many downtown restaurants for attendees to support.

Tom Wilke, the The City of Kent Economic Development Manager, said Kent Skates is a great partnership with Kent State and other organizations, who had two main goals with the rink.

“On behalf of Kent State University to provide their resident students with something to do during the winter months that we currently don’t have,” Wilke said. “And then, second, from a city perspective, it draws people into our downtown during what are traditionally the slowest months of the year for our downtown businesses.”

Wilke explained how great this would be for not just Kent residents, but neighboring towns as well, and said the idea has been in the works for a long time. He said since he took office in 2015 they had discussed a free ice rink, but it wasn’t until 2019 that it was supposed to come into effect. Unfortunately, the pandemic has changed those plans, but the city is thrilled that it’s finally happening this year.

“It’s the first year, so it couldn’t have come at a better time considering everything that’s happened with the pandemic,” Wilke said. “And that’s one thing outside that people will feel safer than inside, and we hope that will generate a lot of traffic.”

With Kent State playing a large funding role, students make up a large portion of the traffic coming to Kent Skates. Student Sydney Smith, a junior engineering student, said she was delighted to have something for her and her friends to do during the winter.

“It’s very convenient, just off campus,” Smith said, “and it’s just something my friends and I can go and have fun.”

Smith said it would be a good addition for students who may not be able to afford to get away and would like to enjoy a traditional vacation activity.

As for Wilke, he said the rink is different from just a one-day event where the community comes together and expects long-term results to bring the community together safely.

The rink will be open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. until February 28. Kent Chamber of Commerce says there will be a Large aperture rink celebration on December 2 at 6 p.m. to officially bring the community together around this special rink.

Lucy Connolly is a journalist. Contact her at [email protected]

Comments are closed.