Remember, safety comes first so everyone has fun.
Organizers say leaps, twirls and backward skating are allowed in the center of the rink, if you know what you are doing. Only people wearing skates are allowed on the ice. Don’t carry your child while you skate. And no speed skating.
After 44 years, organizers of the popular SkateFest know to put safety first, according to Tracy Hodges, box office manager for the Savannah Civic Center. There are posted rules for a reason.
“It’s like every year we have to make a sign for a new rule because of some people,” Hodges said. “We have rules to protect the public. You have grown adults carrying their children when they are skating. If they trip and fall, they will fall forward and land on the child. Don’t carry children.
“Parents want to walk around in shoes on the ice while holding their kid’s hand to skate. Ice skates will cut you. We cannot allow them to do that,” she said.
“We have kids who want to speed skate, and with all the young kids, we can’t have people speed skating,” she added.
As long as you can skate by yourself, you can be on the ice, Hodges said. The smallest skate size that can be rented is a toddler 5 and the largest is adult 14 in unisex sizes. Skaters range from toddler age to 60 or 70 years old, Hodges said.
They have 800 skates that can be rented as part of the $7 skate fee, she said. Skates are sharpened at the start of each season by the center’s engineering department. They will sharpen your skates too, for $5. Skates are sanitized after each use, and socks should be worn.
“You would not believe the people who come to skate with flip flops on,” Hodges said, so the center has socks for sale.
Off-duty police officers are there to be sure people follow the rules, she said. A favorite among the skaters is Savannah-Chatham police Sgt. Gene Lawhorn.
“He’s been doing this forever,” Hodges said. “He’s seen a lot of these skaters when they were kids and now they are 20 years old.”
Members of the Junior ROTC programs at Beach, Johnson, Jenkins, Groves and Savannah high schools volunteer as well.
“They do it as a fundraiser for the schools. We don’t pay the individual students; we pay the school for helping us out,” Hodges said.
SkateFest usually starts at the beginning of the month, but this is another event affected by Hurricane Matthew. School days off were changed and other events had to be rescheduled, Hodges said. So with an abbreviated SkateFest schedule, she expects even more people to skate than the usual 1,500 to 2,000 per day.
Jan. 1 is the last skate day in order for the Civic Center to make the ice worthy of ice hockey competition during the Savannah Tire Hockey Classic from Jan. 13-14.
Until then, Hodges wants the public to stay safe and have fun.
“We have a wall around the whole rink,” Hodges aid. “If they are first-time skaters, hang on to the wall and just have fun.”
IF YOU GO
When: Dec. 16-Jan. 1; closed Dec. 24-25
Where: Savannah Civic Center, 301W. Oglethorpe Ave.
Cost: $7 for single 90-minute session; $35 for six-session pass; includes skate rental
Info: savannahcivic.com, 912-651-6550