Napa’s most popular winter attraction is melting and, to the dismay of many, will soon be gone.
Monday marked the final day of Napa on Ice, an outdoor ice skating rink that hosted roughly 15,000 skaters, according to organizers. In its first-ever season of operation, the rink was open daily from Nov. 19 and was “incredibly successful,” said one organizer.
“We were absolutely astonished by the turnout and the popular support,” said Chris Craiker, an organizer of Napa on Ice. “We were just astounded by it.”
Councilman Peter Mott, who spearheaded the effort to bring the rink downtown, said he was pleased with the turnout. When he announced in July the possibility of a rink, he estimated between 12,000 and 15,000 skaters would take to the ice.
“I would have been happy with (10,000),” he said Monday.
The rink was paid for in part through donations and sponsorships and in part through ticket sales. The project’s profit or loss had not yet been tallied as of Monday afternoon.
Mott said ice skating will be back for a second run for the 2012 holiday season, and might even be bigger.
“That was one of the main requests we got — to make it larger,” Mott said.
Sierra Cook, 14, and Catherine Singler, 10, who met at the rink, said they were sad to see the rink go but eager to see what the improved rink looks like later this year.
“I think it needs to be two times bigger,” said Sierra, who moved to Napa two months ago and said she skated at Napa on Ice about 20 times.
“(Napa) really should get something permanent, even if it’s small,” she said.
Rebecca Singler brought her daughter, Catherine, to the rink about two dozen times over the course of the season, including on closing day, which was about three times busier than usual, Catherine estimated.
“I think it has been fantastic that we’ve had it,” Rebecca Singler said. “It has become its own little town. It has become its own social event.”
Craiker agreed with that sentiment.
“I think it was really something that drew the whole community together,” he said. “All ages and all ethnicities.”
Mott said he most enjoyed seeing Napans use the rink. “It really did turn out to be for local kids and families,” he said.
Alejandra Herrera, of Napa, brought her two daughters and her nieces to the rink for the first time on closing day.
“I had the day off from work and my sister-in-law did too, so we decided to bring them all over,” she said. “I think it’s great.”
Herrera said if the rink returns for a second year, she and her group will “definitely” be back, and more than once.
Twelve-year-old Samantha Sterling said she was a frequent skater and agreed with her peers that Napa should have a permanent rink.
“I’m pretty sad (the ice rink is closing) because I like skating in Napa,” Sterling said. “We don’t have to drive far away, it’s just here in Napa so we can just go.”