BY ELLEN KOESTER
What the Midwest lacks in beaches, it makes up with skating rinks for seasonal fun. The only outdoor rink in the Des Moines area, Brenton Skating Plaza, has strong ties to Drake University.
Robbin McClelland, who manages the rink, said that the rink is very popular among college age students.
“I think it’s just very unique,” McClelland said. “It’s a unique atmosphere with it being downtown and by the river. We supply a safe atmosphere in downtown Des Moines and it’s a great place for all ages.”
The plaza is relatively new. Though it is just celebrating its 10 year anniversary in 2016, the rink has already made an impact on the Drake community.
Brenton Skating Plaza has provided internships and employment opportunities to students in the past. Spike, the mascot, has also made appearances at the Plaza’s Mascot Skate event, which is on Feb. 20 this year.
“We’ve become a tradition for many Drake students and young professionals,” McClelland said. “Whether you’re looking for a fun outdoor activity with friends, date night or just looking to see the area, we’re a great location for Drake students.”
Drake student Rylea Manternach recently had a date night at the rink and said she would go again.
“I had a lot of fun the first time and it’s a place I know is a good and safe environment that I could take my cousins or the kids I babysit to,” Manternach said.
Manternach said the rink was easy to get to even with the hectic Des Moines traffic, and it was good to get out of Drake for a while.
“It’s a cool hang out spot and it’s something different,” Manternach said. “It’s good to get off campus. It’s a source of stress relief.”
New or beginner skaters can sign up for skating classes, which are open to all skill levels. Students can attend a one-time class or sign up for the three remaining classes for the year.
The rink also offers a way to bring clubs or Greek life together. Students can call the plaza and rent the rink for an hour after it would usually close.
“It’ll be just their group to play broomball or ice skate,” said McClelland. “That’s one thing that a lot of college students enjoy.”
Because it is outdoors, the rink is vulnerable to the weather conditions and will close if the wind chill is zero. Students can check the plaza’s website for closings.
Although the rink will close for the season around the first week of March, it will open in mid-May as a venue. They have hosted weddings, private events and will host a concert series from May to September with performers to be announced. More information on public events can be found on the rink’s Facebook page.
Although it is more difficult, it is still important to get outside even in the colder months. Brenton Skating Plaza’s original intent was to offer a way to get people outside.
“It’s a great way for young people to get outside and enjoy the winter weather,” McClelland said.
The plaza opens daily at noon and charges $5.50 for adult skating Mondays through Thursdays with a raise to $7 on weekends and holidays.