Market Square ice rink keeps tradition alive
Skaters enjoy the ice rink on market square.Ryan McGill/ TNJN
Knoxville’s Holiday on Ice, located in the center of Market Square in downtown Knoxville, has been a sign that the winter season has arrived for the past nine years.
The rink opens each year the day after Thanksgiving, staying through to the start of the spring semester. This year had a strong turnout with around 900 skaters on opening day, many of whom were choosing between a figure skate vs hockey skate for their time in the ice. During the inauguration, there was a trampoline dance performance that was mind-blowing.
The ice is kept frozen with an industrial chiller and glycol, placed on a large sandpit. “It could be 100 degrees outside and the glycol would still keep it cold,” said Robyn Wilson, manager at the ice rink.
“The major issue is the texture, but it’s still skateable[sic],” she continued.
Although large numbers turn out to skate in the center of the historic city, Seth Gilliland, a resting skater, thought the wait and time it took to get a pair of skates was short and simple.
“I’ve skated at other rinks before, but never here,” Gilliland said. “It’s really cool skating in the middle of Market Square, it’s just a lot smaller.”
The skaters get wristbands that allow them to come and go as they please. “You can get here at 8a.m., leave, go get something to eat, shop and come back to skate,” Wilson said.
For the past four years The Ice Rink has been owned by the City of Knoxville. The city decided to step in and continue the tradition after complications were encountered by the previous owners.
Assistant manager, Patrick Mclemore, enjoys working at the rink and says the city really takes care of their employees.
“The city provides some really good heaters,” Mclemore said. “Really, it’s better if it’s cold because the ice conditions are better for skating.”
Employees go out of their way to keep the rink operational even as the winter season becomes more unforgiving.
“We aren’t going to disappoint not only Market Square but the downtown atmosphere,” Wilson said. “We have three to four groups working overtime.”
“A large percent of the employees here have family working for the city, it’s really connected,” Mclemore said.
That kind of dedication to the city shows through, and the positive change the rink underwent after the city of Knoxville stepped in is evident.
Smiles skate past the on-lookers who have the opportunity to view the ice rink while walking by.
Wilson said, “We kept the rink here for one reason, to keep the city of Knoxville and the people in it happy.”
Edited by Jessica Carr