Opening Of Winterfest Draws Crowds To Hartford's Bushnell Park
By SAMAIA HERNANDEZ
November 24, 2012
HARTFORD— Six-year-old Tanajiah Betts jumped up and down in line, waiting to chat with Santa Claus.
"I need to talk to Santa; I want a doll house for Christmas," she said on Friday evening, the opening day of Winterfest in Bushnell Park.
Her excitement is the kind of the joy the city hopes its Winterfest celebration will bring to Bushnell Park and the iQuilt Plan — which aims to connect the cultural, historical and recreational attractions in the area.
On the day after Thanksgiving, children donned festive hats as crowds gathered amid the white lights to used the newly extended 100-foot by 100-foot ice skating rink, pose for photos with Santa and ride the carousel.
The best part: It's free.
"Winterfest is an example of what Hartford can be like. … We have a lot of beautiful things in this city," Mayor Pedro E. Segarra said. "We want to make sure we do everything we can to revitalize this park. This is a special place, the first public park in the country."
A procession of champion figure skaters from across the state performed solo routines for hundreds of visitors. The city offered free street parking for the occasion.
"This is a great place to live," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told the crowd. "We have to support it. We have to defend it and we have to celebrate it."
The Lift Every Voice and Sing Community Choir of Hartford and the Hall High School Choraliers of West Hartford sang seasonal tunes like "Let it Snow," and dozens of people waited in line at the rink to borrow one of more than 500 pair of skates available.
Organizers said they raised $200,000 from corporate sponsors to support the effort.
The rink, which features free skating, rentals and lessons, can accommodate as many as 175 skaters at time. From now until Jan. 21, the rink will be open Sunday through Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 9 p.m.
"This is just great for the kids and the community to come together and have a great time," city resident Mildred Santiago said while her children waited to skate. "And this is great for me."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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