Skate on Main numbers to be released February

Published 8:16 am Thursday, January 4, 2018

HOD director says some numbers lower than expected, but social media posts reached many 

Learning to ice skate for the first time can be challenging. And sponsoring an ice skating rink in the middle of downtown Danville for the first time is a bit slippery, too.

“You know the first year is always tricky whenever you introduce a new event. It is kind of a risk. You never know if the community is going to support it or not,” said Nick Wade, director of the Heart of Danville Main Street program. “So we were really pleased overall how everything turned out. Especially for the first year. It was a very positive thing.”

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Wade said about 1,200 skaters used the artificial ice rink set up on Weisiger Plaza, Skate on Main, in front of the Boyle County Courthouse from Thanksgiving until Dec. 23, “which is pretty good for the first year around.”

Weekday skating numbers were lower than the Heart anticipated Wade said. But the numbers on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and Friday evenings were better. The final financial reports concerning the rink and ticket sales won’t be available until February.

“The numbers on our social media that we reached were even better. We had one post that reached 70,000 people, so it doubled the population of Boyle County,” Wade said.

And Wade couldn’t explain why, but the Heart’s Facebook posts of four of the special skate nights reached more than twice that number — 152,000 people. “We’re really excited that it got out that much.”

The popular social media page likes came mostly from a 17-county area in central Kentucky, Wade said. And what makes that good for Danville is because “It brought attention to the Heart of Danville and downtown in general.”

Photo courtesy of Heart of Danville

Skate on Main also held special nights for groups and organizations, as well as four other special skating events including nights where kids, young and old, could skate with characters from Star Wars, “Paw Patrol” and with princesses.

Eight organizations held special skate nights when a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales were donated for their benefit. Wade said The Heart was able to split almost $300 between the Humane Society; Don’t Sleep (a local “unifying organization”); Boyle County volleyball; Danville Montessori School; Danville Christian Academy; Boyle County Middle School; Hogsett Elementary; and Boyle County Band Boosters. 

Wade said he heard from several people who were excited to have something different to do with their grandchildren when they visited for the holidays. He also said some parents learned to skate along side of their kids. 

“We really saw a good cross-section of the community come out. You know some of our events are more catered to Centre College students or young families. This was something good for everybody.”

Wade said he wasn’t sure if the downtown retail establishments saw any uptick in shoppers due to the skating rink. However, he thinks downtown food establishments saw a bit of extra traffic from the skaters and their families. He said the owner of the recently opened Harvey’s told him several families stopped in to grab dinner after skating.

And even though it’s not a formal survey of eateries benefiting from the rink, once when he had to search through a nearby garbage can for something, there were several boxes from Pizza and Pub and cups from Plank and The Hub. 

“So we know the restaurants and food places were frequented by people who were at the ice rink,” he said and chuckled.

There was plenty of slipping, sliding and falling on the artificial ice, but no broken bones were suffered. However, one incident involved a young lady who fell and had her hand cut, who had to have stitches. 

“But when you think about ice skates and how sharp they are, and in a 30-day period and have only one incident like that, it’s not bad. We were pleased that was the only one that we had to deal with.”

Wade said the City of Danville spent a lot of money revamping Weisiger Plaza and it’s a great space for public events. And he got used to the rink there and enjoyed seeing people out and about around the area during the holidays. But, “As we were driving by yesterday, we said, ‘Oh, it’s so empty now.'”

Even though the Heart considers the rink’s temporary addition to downtown a success, and it brought excitement and vibrancy to the area, Wade said they aren’t sure if the rink will return next year.

He said they will be having preliminary meetings to discuss options with other companies with the hopes of lowering the rental costs, “to be more economically feasible for us to do it again.”