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East Montgomery County’s first ice rink garners warm reception

January 2, 2019

Stumbles were smile-inducers for visitors trying out the ice rink at Valley Ranch Town Center in New Caney over the weekend.

The attraction’s opening on Dec. 29 also kicked off “A Holiday to Remember,” an event spearheaded by the East Montgomery County Improvement District that will go on until Jan. 6. As ecstatic as the attendees was Frank McCrady, the organization’s president and CEO, who said the ice rink is both another holiday activity for the community’s youths and the first of its kind in the county.

“We’re seeing how it goes this year — if it’s well-received by our community, we’ll do it again next year,” he said. McCrady also emphasized that the ice used is real and not synthetic.

Though additional roles for the ice rink aren’t out of the question, McCrady said, until then there will be a focus on perfecting the attraction’s leisure and community-oriented vision.

Local resident Sarah Diggs, whose daughter and cousins were among the skaters, reacted positively to the ice rink, saying that this one is closer to home and has more parking spots. Prior to this spot, she said the place to quench the family’s ice-skating craving was The Ice Rink at The Woodlands Town Center.

“Sometimes you have to get there super-early just try to get a spot,” she said. “And it’s not as cold in here, which is good! We were nervous.”

However, Diggs said the new ice rink is missing just one thing: walkers to assist the young or newcomers to ice-skating. This is a feature The Woodlands’ ice rink has, she added.

Also voicing Diggs’ thought was David Miniter, a Kingwood resident of six years, who now and then would turn heads with seamless glides, protective helmet and a pair of padded gloves. He also made other suggestions such as an earlier opening date to host a “holiday skate” or have Santa Claus displaying his on-ice skills.

“They really need to have something that will help properly resurface the ice and not just move the snow away,” added the Connecticut native, who used to play in the adult hockey leagues, coached youth hockey for 11 years and refereed for 13. Miniter thought that a small Zamboni unit will be ideal.

At the same time, he was most impressed with the ice surface, especially when it is the first to be introduced in the area. He also noted the absence of imperfections - bumps on holes - on the ice surface, sufficient number of side boards and proper padding to maintain the skates’ blades.

“Just overall, a nice setup,” he said. “When I come to a rink, it’s my safe place, my happy place. When I can go out there and I can just smell the ice - it’s part of what I like to do best.”

McCrady hopes the ice rink will provide “a good winter experience and hopefully some great memories” for attendees throughout the eight-day event. The ice rink opens from noon until 8 p.m. There is a $5 fee to receive the skates and 90 minutes on the ice.

The event’s Facebook page also details which food trucks will also be on-site to serve skaters, including Tacos Flores, Refill Station and Kelley’s Heroes.

nguyen.le@chron.com

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