It's taken two years to establish itself, but the city's Winterfest in Bushnell Park is a success.
The event is the successor to the Festival of Light, which was held for years on Constitution Plaza. But with waning corporate interest, organizers decided to try something new by moving it to the more centrally located greensward. It was a bit of a rush job last year, leading to some criticism about the light display.
But this year everything was jake. The twinkling lights look lovely at night, and the skating rink has been a major hit, drawing nearly 50,000 skaters from the opening on Nov. 25 to the close on Monday. Youngsters and adults from the suburbs and the city came together to glide across the ice. Cool, in every respect.
Winterfest offers a window into why the iQuilt plan, to organize the city's arts and cultural activity around the park, has such potential. As programs such as Winterfest attest, more people and more activity create excitement and a positive vibe, which can and should lead to development around the park.
Organizers and city officials are already thinking about expanding the program next year, possibly with more winter activities such as a sledding hill or cross country skiing, should it snow, and a larger ice rink. Former city councilman Mike McGarry suggested resurfacing the rink for roller skating in the summer, an idea worth pursuing. So far, so good.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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