Because it’s often my route to work, I have seen the lights in Bushnell Park plenty during the daytime, which is to say, I have not had much to look at but cords running everywhere and people constantly working to adjust the display. Still, it is a treat to hear laughter coming from the area of the ice rink, as it’s being used by people of all ages. Last night was my first opportunity since the kick-off tree lighting event to return to the park in the evening. They have added lots of lights since then, including the small white ones that were absent from the aforementioned event.
This was also my first time this season getting to see Constitution Plaza at night. I had heard that there were fewer lights there, but honestly did not think it was a noticeable difference. Christmas music was playing loudly on the plaza. As in other years, only a few other people were out enjoying the lights. Since Spris has closed, there was even less of a human presence in that area.
The contrast between the two settings was pretty sharp, actually. The plaza was well lit with traditional lights, but it was out of the way and felt utterly disconnected, as there was nothing open on the plaza. Maybe this will atmosphere will change after the walkway between the Connecticut Science Center and Convention Center is completed, enabling visitors to more easily access the plaza. Maybe this would change if the CT Science Center had a Liquid Lounge event that spilled outside, but the next one of those is not scheduled until February, according to their website. Currently, the closest that any First Night events will be to Constitution Plaza is at the Old State House. It seems silly to not include Constitution Plaza in such a major event.
The park, on the other hand, is easier to get to accidentally. There were not significantly more people walking through, but there were more. These were people walking their dogs or just cutting through. The rink had just shut down for the evening when I visited, but the maintenance staff were outside fixing the ice. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” was coming from speakers near the rink. Several restaurants are visible from within the park, so the atmosphere felt more alive.
The ice skating hours, as posted on the Greater Hartford Arts Council site are as follows:
Beginning on December 11 and continuing until January 6, public skating hours will open at 11 am every day. Here is the detailed schedule:
•Monday –Thursday 11 am – 8 pm.
•Friday: 11 am – 6 pm; 7 – 9 pm | Champion skating show 6 – 7 pm
•Saturday: 11 am – 6 pm; 7 pm – 9 pm | Champion skating show 6 – 7 pm
•Sunday: 11 am – 8 pm
School Vacation week:
•Monday – Thursday Dec. 27 – 30: 11 am – 8 pm
•Friday Dec. 31 (First Night): 11 am – 6 pm & 7 pm – 1:00 am | Champion skating show 6 – 7 pm
Holiday skating hours:
•Christmas Eve (Dec 24) and Christmas Day (Dec 25) 11 am – 5 pm.
•New Years Eve – First Night (Dec 31) until 1 am
•New Years Day (Jan 1) 11 am – 9 pm
They have free skate rentals. If you were to visit an ice rink in a bordering town, it would cost upwards of ten dollars for admission and skate rental, for adults or children. Additionally, tonight is the last evening for free hot cocoa and cookies. These can be obtained from 5:30-7:30 on the ground level of the Center Church House located on Gold Street.
There are still places to shop that are not in the mall and a number of holiday events going on to stave off boredom. Now, if you’re still inclined to complain about what Hartford has to offer for the holiday season, please consider concerning yourself with a real problem and donating winter items and toiletries to people in need.
Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford.
To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.