Ice Rink at Sugar Hill is a popular revival of old city tradition

Sugar Hill might need to change its name to Ice Hill every winter as a newly revived tradition grows in popularity.

The city is in its second year of hosting an ice rink for the winter. The South may not sound like the typical winter wonderland, but the Ice Rink at Sugar Hill — which sits on a hill near City Hall — is proving that people below the Mason-Dixon Line like stereotypical winter activities just as much as their northern counterparts, according to city officials.

“There’s typically not a lot of snow in this area, so this is a way to bring a touch of winter to Sugar Hill,” city spokeswoman Megan Carnell said.

The rink is growing as what might seem like a new tradition in Sugar Hill, but the truth is that this is really a case of something old eventually becoming new again.

The 76-year old city hosted an ice rink years ago that was an annual tradition for the city. Carnell said it was eventually discontinued several years ago only to be rediscovered last year as preparations were underway for the city’s 75th anniversary book.

“We talked to a bunch of our older residents who remembered when the city had an ice rink every year and so the idea sort of came from there to bring it back,” Carnell said. “The response has been really positive.”

The 75th anniversary celebrations gave the city an opportunity to celebrate its birthday by reviving a piece of its history. The icing on the cake was that it proved to be popular.

There were about 15,000 visits to the ice rink when the city held it last year behind City Hall, according to Carnell. She said attendance has been encouraging so far this year as well. Official numbers weren’t available, but the city is projecting about 17,000 to 18,000 visits to the rink, which is run by Have an Ice Day, by Jan. 31 based on the traffic its seen so far this year.

“At our holiday celebration on Dec. 5, it was packed,” Carnell said.

The popularity isn’t too surprising to Mayor Steve Edwards, though.

“We listened to the request of the citizens for something to do in winter months and around the holidays,” he said in a statement. “This is a great way to build a better downtown while bringing family and community together.”

The city learned a few things from the ice rink’s first year that have led to some changes for this year, though. The biggest changes are how long it is open, and where it is located at.

The rink stayed open through February last year, but Carnell said officials noticed a sharp drop off in attendance in the final month so they decided to shorten its time frame this year. It’s now scheduled to close Jan. 31.

The rink was also moved this year. Last year, it was located at the bottom of a slope behind City Hall. This year, it was placed on a nearby hill at 5039 West Broad St., to make it more visible to drivers on Buford Highway.

The city is also doing Throwback Thursdays at the Rink this year. On those days, visitors are encouraged to wear fashions from their favorite decade at the rink. A person wearing leg warmers and spandex could be seen skating next to someone in a poodle skirt, if they choose to participate in the theme.

“It’s a continuation of our Thursdays on the Hill,” Carnell said. “We’ll play music from different decades all day and if people want to dress up, we encourage them to do so.”

The rink is open Thursday through Sunday while school is in session, but it will be open every day from Thursday until Jan. 5 because schools will be on holiday break. It will also be open on Monday, Jan. 18 for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The hours of operation will be shortened on Christmas and New Years Day, to 2 to 11 p.m. Hours of operation for the other days vary from day to day but will generally stay around an 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. schedule on days when school is out. A calendar with exact hours for each day can be found on the rink’s website,www.icerinkatsugarhill.com.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children, although there are $2 discounts for adults on Thursdays while school is in session.

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