For the first time in four decades, people can ice skate in downtown Philadelphia.
The Rothman Institute Ice Rink in the newly redesigned Dilworth Plaza at City Hall opened Friday for a few hours of free skating. Hundreds of winter revelers braved an unseasonable cold snap to be the first to glide across the ice.
“It’s been 40 years since I’ve been on the ice. I fell, but I got right back up,” said Levon Walker, 68, who has not skated since the old Penn Center Skate Rink at 17th Street and JFK Boulevard shut down in the 1970s. “When I can spin — it will take me a while — but at some point, I’m going to spin today.”
Many skaters, some still in hospital scrubs, took long lunch hours to try out the rink. There were hot shots, wall-clingers, and couples gliding while holding hands. Sixty kids from Meredith Elementary School were bused in for an opening day field trip. And Rocky Balboa lookalike showed the Italian Stallion can handle his own on the ice.
It did not take long for someone to get hurt: within five minutes of opening, a woman fell and hit her head, and had to be carried off the ice.
For most, it was a taste of New York’s Rockefeller Center in Philadelphia under historic City Hall and a crisp wintry sky. “I love the winter holiday,” said Rob Shreiber, playing hooky from his job in the nearby Municipal Court Building. “I’m dressed in green and red. It’s an exciting time.”