The colourful lighting mimicking the Northern Lights, the cheery music and carols, and the illuminated decoration of the holiday ice rink at Union Station inspired Ingrid Leal to lace up her skates last Saturday.
“It’s definitely one of the best ice rinks I’ve ever been to here in Toronto. The ice is solid and great for skating and the decor is really beautiful,” she said.
The free ice rink on Front Street is part of the Union Holiday event. Everyone is invited to skate for free — including those who don’t have their own skates.
To support this initiative, Bauer Hockey donated the best-quality skates and helmets that are at everyone’s disposal at no cost.
“We just wanted to bring something that is free, so doesn’t matter who you are, you can register and skate. We just wanted that accessibility for everybody,” event supervisor Danielle Arsenault said.
Arsenault said all equipment is sanitized after each guest’s use and visitors can also take skating lessons and enjoy free giveaways and DJ music in December.
For Leal’s husband Danilo, it was fun to have his first experience in an outdoor rink with his wife there.
“My wife is great at it, but I’m not a very experienced skater so I enjoyed how friendly they were with people who are still learning,” he said.
The event is following COVID-19 guidelines placed by Toronto Public Health and the Ontario government. Masks are required inside the station and on the rink.
“Vaccination is strongly recommended, but is not mandatory,” Arsenault said.
“Also, the rink is operating at reduced capacity, so only a maximum of 25 people per hour can use it to facilitate social distancing, and everyone at the rink must wear masks,” she said.
The event also involves the promotion of different retailers available within Union Station, where the perfect Christmas gift can be found.
A new Foodie Aisle is also available under the Bay Concourse, featuring a selection of specialty appetizers designed by local Toronto chefs.
Arsenault said the non-profit event creates an inclusive space that could make all participants, no matter their background, native country, or who they are, and to feel as if they belong to Toronto by enjoying the festive season with an activity that is considered a truly Canadian winter one — ice skating.
Union Station and TD Bank, a sponsor, will donate $1 to the United Way for each social media post with the hashtag #TDUnionHolliday, so all visitors are encouraged to share their experiences with this hashtag.
Skating times can be booked on Eventbrite. Special needs and free equipment rental must be noted during registration.