By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on December 28, 2020
After an absence of a decade, folks on the Outer Banks once again have the opportunity to lace up the skates and try out their best double axel.
Wanchese Marina and The Landing Grill have brought some frozen fun to the Outer Banks this holiday season by offering a portable ice rink that will be open through Jan. 2. The rink has been bustling with eager skaters since it opened on Dec. 19, according to Wanchese Marina’s Brenda Fann. The Outer Banks hasn’t had its own ice rink since the popular Ice Haus at the Weeping Radish in Grandy closed about 10 years ago.
Fann told the Voice that the idea for the ice rink came out of a desire to look for unique, fun activities for children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They have nothing, everything has been taken away from them,” she said. At the rink, “People are having fun…adults are having fun, kids are having fun. It’s been a great thing for not just Wanchese, but the entire Outer Banks.”
The experience of ice skating on the 20 x 40-foot rink includes warming up near a raging bonfire, sipping on hot cocoa and cider, as well as enjoying some smores. The rink has also featured two visits from Santa Claus himself, allowing children to socially distance while skating by to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.
Fann said the rink has had visitors from as far away as Ahoskie, Hatteras, Elizabeth City and Englehard. “You name [the place] and they’ve been coming over,” she noted, adding that the marina is planning a New Year’s Eve event for children from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the rink. While plans are still in the works, she said the event will likely include an apple juice toast and ball drop.
Online reservations are encouraged and the number of people on the ice is limited to 20 due to COVID-19 restrictions. People can claim their spot in-person if space is available. Wearing masks while skating is not required, but is a personal choice.
This isn’t the first time the marina has tried to improvise to deliver a little fun to local children during the trying times of COVID-19. On Halloween, it also hosted a bouncy house, hayride and trick-or-treating out to boats on the dock.
“We are trying to come up with cool ideas for the kids…and people have had a ball with this,” Fann said. “I can’t tell you how many parents have said thank you.”
As to whether the Wanchese ice rink will become an annual happening, Fann concluded: “The way Wanchese Marina operates, it will be bigger and badder next year.”
(Online reservations can be made at www.wanchesemarina.com. Tickets are for an hour and are $20 for adults and children 12 and up, $15 for children under 12. Private groups up to 20 people are $350.)