Mill River Park ice rink returns to Stamford after a COVID-19 pause last winter

STAMFORD — Mill River Park’s seasonal ice rink is making a triumphant return.

The patch of cement where the central fountain typically stands is now enclosed in a solid, clear perimeter. Nearby, two sets of metal bleachers face the massive circle that grew throughout Thursday afternoon.

After a yearlong pause caused by COVID-19 restrictions, Mill River Park Collaborative President Arthur Selkowitz said he expects the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Skating Center to open the weekend of Nov. 26, two days after Thanksgiving.

“If the weather cooperates, we’re going to start making ice on Monday” since temperatures need to be relatively cold for the rink not to melt immediately, Selkowitz said.

The collaborative plans to debut the rink as part of the Holiday Stroll at Mill River Park, a new holiday celebration slated to run from the weekend after Thanksgiving until January. The stroll brings together holiday lights, food and drink, a Christmas village and Half Full Brewery’s Winter Beer Garden.

Tickets are available for the Holiday Stroll, although the first night of the event already is sold out. Prices range from $15 to $25 and vary based on the day of the week.

Mill River launched its ice rink in winter 2018 for the first time and the event repeated in 2019. But during the 2020 season, the skating center was only open for a few days before the state shut it down. The Connecticut Department of Health deemed any group of four or more people skating simultaneously as a sports team. Thus, the rink was out of compliance with the state’s Team Sports on Pause guidelines.

During the peaks of the pandemic’s winter surge in 2020, parents rallied hard against the decision, arguing that it deprived their kids of the few safe activities available last December.

With crowd restrictions long gone in Connecticut, those same families frustrated by the pandemic last year can expect to enjoy a full season of skating at the rink.

veronica.delvalle@hearstmediact.com