Hartford Holiday Event To Have Bigger, Still Free, Skating Rink At Bushnell Park Until Feb. 19
By JENNA CARLESSO
September 16, 2011
HARTFORD —— The Festival of Light is getting bigger, and getting a new name.
The festival, a tradition on Constitution Plaza since 1963, moved to Bushnell Park last year and added a new feature — an outdoor skating rink. The rink was hailed as a success; the light show drew mixed reviews.
On Friday, organizers announced that the event will be called "Winterfest," and the popular ice rink will be larger, stay open longer and continue to have free admission.
The new rink will measure 80-by-90, twice the square footage of last year's 40-by-90 rink, and will accommodate 140 skaters at a time, up from 70. It will be open Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving, to Feb. 19.
Organizers are trying to raise $400,000 through corporate donations to cover the cost of Winterfest. They have raised about $128,000 so far, Mayor Pedro Segarra said.
The event is part of a strategy to make the city's downtown more vibrant, he said.
Last winter, the rink drew more than 20,000 visitors during its roughly four weeks of operation, organizers said.
The rink will be in front of the Pump House at Bushnell Park this year. A playground in the area will be dismantled to make room for the rink and then be replaced in the spring.
This season's light show will feature more of the traditional twinkle lights that were popular during the Constitution Plaza display. Last year, the first at Bushnell Park, organizers went with colored spotlights and searchlights. The show was described by some as underwhelming.
"We listened to people's responses and what they're looking for," said Kate Bolduc, chief executive of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, which organized the Festival of Light. "This year, there's going to be more of what they're looking for."
As for the event's new name, Bolduc said: "If there's a question as to what's happening to the tradition, I'd say it's expanding. It's not really changing."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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