ROCKINGHAM, N.C. — Chesterfield resident Beth Crowley crossed the state line to find a winter wonderland a half-hour up the road.
The mercury didn’t plunge and the sunny skies didn’t give way to steel-gray snowclouds, but Crowley was able to take her family ice-skating last Saturday just the same.
The synthetic ice rink at Rockingham’s Richmond Plaza shopping center, which closes for the season on Sunday, is the closest to Chesterfield County, Crowley said. The jaunt saved her a longer drive to Florence or to Monroe, North Carolina, which also offer ice skating.
“We wanted to enjoy this last bit of hot weather. She’s played with her toys and just wanted to get out of the house,” Crowley said of her niece. “I think it’s something that little cities need to do more of. It don’t cost a lot, and the money goes to a good cause. She talks about wanting to go skating every day after school.”
The cost to skate is $5 and includes skate rental, said Josh McGee of Tri City Inc., the real estate development company that owns Richmond Plaza. As far as attendance, McGee said it can be hit or miss depending on the weather.
With Saturday’s temperatures hovering around the mid-70s, Tri City leasing and tenant relations manager Gabrielle Goodwin’s decision to go with synthetic ice for the rink was a smart one. According to her, the rink saw an average of 200 skaters a day during the first week, and the numbers have averaged out to 150 a week since then.
With such an influx of skaters flocking to the shopping center, however, the Sunday ending date is set in stone, said Goodwin.
“It’s just a lot of work, and I have to have workers out there,” she said. “It’s great, it’s been great for the community, but the third is the last day.”
Rest assured though, she said, the ice skating rink will be back up and running next year staring in November and continuing until January of 2017.
Reach reporter Matt Harrelson at 910-817-2674 and follow him on Twitter @mattyharrelson.