SAN JOSE (October 5, 2022) — The San Jose Downtown Association (SJDA) is changing skates this holiday season. DOWNTOWN ICE will become ALOHA DOWNTOWN ROLLER RINK in the same location among the Circle of Palms, starting Nov. 19 through January 8.
“When we started Downtown Ice in 1995, the Sharks had just started playing hockey at the new Arena and the popularity of ice skating was really catching on in San Jose,” said Scott Knies, outgoing CEO of SJDA. “Like we have done many times before with Music in the Park, America Festival, SoFA Street Fair and now the ice rink — events must constantly be reimagined to stay fresh.”
Produced by ALOHA FUN CENTER in partnership with SJDA and funding from the City of San Jose, the new roller rink will have a holiday theme, but has the potential to come back in the spring or summer as well. In addition, the site could also return as an ice rink in future years for winter sessions.
“During the pandemic, roller skating gained popularity as large numbers of people took to the sport as a way to stay active when gyms and recreational facilities were closed down,” said rink producer Liz Ruiz, who also operates the ALOHA FUN CENTER at Eastridge and was a former member of the Silicon Valley Roller Girls roller derby team.
Statistics show that the number of people roller skating out-numbers ice skaters throughout the country by millions. A Rollerskating page on social media platform TikTok has received more than eight billion views since shelter-in-place mandates started in the spring 2020.
The design of inner and outer rings around 32 palm trees will remain similar to the ice rink, with programmable LED lighting on the palm trees. There will be a DJ station, two areas for skaters to rest in the “corals” between the palms and retro design elements to play off a “roller disco” theme.
The operational hours and cost will be in line with last year – about $20 per person, including skate rental.
Liz Ruiz says she is honored to have this opportunity to step into this urban space and bring her style of skating fun to downtown San Jose. “I used to skate recreationally in the Circle of Palms area and always thought it would be a great spot for a roller rink,” she said.
SJDA considered options for how best to use the public plaza located across Market Street from Christmas in the Park after learning that last year’s operator — Willy Bietak Productions — opted not to return this year.
The normal festive environment downtown lacked energy last year due to mask mandates and proof-of-vaccination requirements, the adjacent Fairmont Hotel (now Signia Hilton) shuttered and a weeklong storm between Christmas and New Year’s that kept customers off the ice during the busiest week of the season.
Details for special events are pending permit approval from the city. Since less construction is needed for the roller rink, installation can start later than in years past.