Icy wonderland draws hundreds to Chattanooga's riverfront

Ice is back in Chattanooga, and this time there is no need to buy a bag of salt or curse Mother Nature.

Just grab some skates.

Ice on the Landing, which opened Friday, is the first ice skating rink in the Scenic City in more than 10 years.

Excitement over the rink was so widespread that a line of more than 200 people had formed before the rink even opened at 5 p.m., said rink manager Barry Cole.

"We have never done this before in Chattanooga so I didn't quite know what to expect," Cole said. "But, it seems to be going great."

The rink, which is set up at Ross's Landing on the riverfront, is draped with lights and was filled with excitement and Christmas music on Friday night.

Morgan Iverson, 14, from Chattanooga, said she had been skating once before, but it was a long time ago.

"Skating is easier than I remember it being," she said. "I definitely plan on coming back."

Morgan went skating with her dad, Paul Iverson, who said, "This is very unique for Chattanooga, and a great thing for us to have."

Morgan held her dad's hand as they slowly skated around the rink, neither of them concerned about the people passing them.

Everyone on the ice was wearing a coat, and many donned a hat and scarf, as they glided through the cold air in black skates. Some skaters clung to the wall, while others attempted to practice their combination spins on the crowded rink.

The variety of skaters on the rink provided a constant source of entertainment for onlookers watching from the bleachers and huddled on the ground next to portable heaters.

Stephanie Meshel moved from the north with her husband and three children several years ago.

She said her family used to skate when they lived up north, but since moving to Chattanooga they had not been able to for years.

"My kids love to skate and it has been so long," Meshel said. "We came out tonight for the fun!"

Meshel and her family were waiting in line to purchase tickets, and said the line did not bother them, and they expected it on opening night.

Carla Pritchard, owner of Chattanooga Presents, which hosted the rink's opening, said, they are experimenting with rink capacity to see how many people can safely and enjoyably skate at one time.

"The nice thing is, people can try the rink out any day until January fourth," Pritchard said. "Hopefully it won't always be this busy."

Contact staff writer Kendi Anderson at kendi.anderson@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6592.