Magical Nights

by TOM BERG

OK, it may have dipped to just the low 60s, but it feels like a winter wonderland this evening as 98,000 synchronized lights sparkle over Spectrum Center’s holiday ice rink.

Skaters slip and slide. Some clasp hands and whirl beneath the dazzling light show, set to music, that illuminates a new 78-foot holiday tree opposite the Giant Wheel.

“I feel like we’re in Rockefeller Center,” says a skater swooshing by in cap and scarf. “It’s so festive.”

 

More than 400,000 skaters have enjoyed the rink since its 2003 debut.

Millions have gathered rink-side to watch – and a dozen couples have gotten engaged on the ice.

On this night, Adalyn Kim, 3, clutches her mom’s hand and takes her first-ever baby steps on ice, declaring: “I’m doing a great job!” The annual “Skating Under the Stars” program runs 3-11 p.m. daily through Jan. 6.

Last year, Spectrum Center added a “Themed Thursdays” night that offered a $5 discount to skaters who wore the appropriate attire – think “Crazy Christmas Hats,” “Ugly Sweaters” and “Santa’s Helpers.”

That’s returned this year along with a towering holiday tree draped with 46,000 LED lights synchronized to music. Its five-minute light show plays every 30 minutes, starting at dusk, and will continue through Dec. 24.

On the opposite end of the rink stands the Giant Wheel with 52,000 LED lights capable of projecting 16 million color schemes.

Together they create a festive holiday atmosphere for young Adalyn Kim and more than 30,000 skaters expected to join the fun this year.

“I’m old-school,” says Adalyn’s dad, Dan Kim, watching rink-side. “I love it when members of the community do things together.”

Nearby, Ethan Chow, 10, circles the rink as he has for the past few Decembers.

“We’re excited by the addition of the tree this year,” says his mom, Jolina Chow.

She calls out to her son rushing by:

“Hi, honey, having fun?”

He doesn’t have to answer. He just keeps skating.

Visit irvinespectrumcenter.com for details