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Brenton Skating Plaza opens for busy winter season


Brenton Skating Plaza makes a great family outing, date night and special marriage proposal spot.

Brenton Skating Plaza makes a great family outing, date night and special marriage proposal spot.

The earliest ice skates date back 5,000 years. In Switzerland people used leg bones of large animals and tied them to their feet with leather straps. In the 1500s, Dutch skaters nailed flat iron plates to wooden platforms which were then strapped to the feet. Back then skates were probably used as a mode of transportation more than for sport. Today, thanks to American Jackson Haines, who invented the modern blade with toe-picks, we can spin, glide and jump our way into 2013 at the Brenton Skating Plaza.

The Brenton Skating Plaza is Iowa’s first of its kind, an open-air skating rink. It sports three miles of refrigerant tubing under the 120- by 60-foot rink, so the ice maintains a perfect condition all winter long. Located on the Principal Riverwalk, at the corner of Grand Avenue and Robert D. Ray Drive, the rink is open for skating daily with noon-hour specials on skating and rentals.

On Friday night, the rink comes alive as a DJ cranks up tunes for a night of skating, dancing and fun from 8 – 11 p.m. The rink is also open until 11 p.m. on Saturday nights, which makes it a popular date destination for couples, both old and young. Specials are offered periodically throughout the winter, with discounts on admission, skate rental fees and refreshments.

“In December we had noontime specials, with admission, skates and cocoa for only $5,” said manager Robbin McClellend. “We also had family night where the whole family got in for $18.95, and that covered admission and rental for everyone in the family.”


Last week’s snow storm forced a rare closing.

“We were closed during the recent blizzard,” said McClellend. “We don’t usually close when it snows, but sometimes we have to accommodate the weather when we are hit with blizzards or when it warms up in March.”

Besides the late-night skates on Friday and Saturday, several other events and programs are held at the riverside rink. Learn-to-skate classes are offered at 6:30 p.m. on Mondays and 8:55 a.m. on Saturdays. The $52, four-week classes include 30 minutes of instruction each week, skate rental, a free pass to a public skate and membership to U.S. Figure Skating. The second class begins on Jan. 5, with a third session starting Feb. 2.

Once you learn to skate, you can take your date to the rink for an extra special proposal. McClelland said the plaza will fit the occasion with your own romantic music, a decoration of flowers and a cleared rink so you can make that special proposal to your loved one in center ice, followed by a romantic lap of the rink for just you and your new fiancé. Reservations for this special proposal on ice can be made by calling the rink directly. CV

Information, including hours, fees, lessons and special programs, is available at or by calling (515) 284-1000.

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