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ECHDC: The Ice at Canalside now open for the season

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Mon, Nov 23rd 2015 11:10 am

Building on the success of last winter, more activities and amenities added; visit www.canalsidebuffalo.com for complete schedule of events

Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. today opened for the season The Ice at Canalside presented by BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York.

There are a number of improvements this winter, including a larger warming tent and the Canalside Winter Pavilion presented by Cricket Wireless that will house venders, programming and refreshments. The Ice, created under the leadership of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, provides visitors with a skating surface that is bigger than two NHL rinks, with three unique bridges and more than 20,000 square feet of pedestrian towpaths.

This season, winter visitors will have extended hours to enjoy skating, curling, ice bikes and other winter activities.

"We talk about making incremental improvements to Canalside, but this year we outdid ourselves making a huge leap with scores of new amenities and activities at The Ice," ECHDC Chairman Robert Gioia said. "With the new Winter Pavilion, improved warming tent, more activities and food choices, paired with extended hours, this winter season will be exceptional."

The new 30-feet-by-50-feet Canalside Winter Pavilion, located near The Immigrant Steps, is heated and has food and merchandise vendors, including Just Fries (topped and loaded fries), Harborside Mercantile (waffles, popcorn, pizza, coffee), Bubbles & Brews Spectra Beverage (beer, wine and Pepsi products), as well as Buffalove and Canalside merchandise. The pavilion will host fun weekly programming, including open mic nights, Buffalo trivia and karaoke starting in January. Additional heated restrooms are located behind the pavilion. Kiosks outside the tent house Ice Bikes of Buffalo and Friends of the Buffalo Story. The pavilion's custom design is by All Seasons Party and Tent Rental.

The site is also host to a new 16-by-80-feet structured warming tent that is about twice as big as the vinyl tent used last season and ready for any weather Mother Nature will throw at The Ice. The tent has a full glass wall along the ice side for unique views of The Ice, as well as benches, cubbies and rental lockers.

The Ice's improved visitor experience includes extended matted areas, which allows visitors to enjoy more activities without having to remove their skates, and 20 new skate-aide walkers. The ticket sales booth has been relocated to help decongest the entrance area and manage lines.

Bryce's Winter Café (kiosk at ice entrance) will serve coffee, hot chocolate, pretzels and roasted nuts Thursdays through Sundays in November and every day starting in December.

Also new this year are Friday theme nights, such as "Wild West," "Superhero" and "Disco," as well as off-ice fun like "Open Mic Mondays," "Karaoke Tuesdays," "Buffalo Trivia Wednesdays," "Weekend Magic Shows" in November and December from "Nick Presents Magic," "Snow Soccer with Soccer Shots" on select Sundays and "Lake Effect Fitness," a 10-week, outdoor, aerobic-based fitness series on Saturdays and Sundays starting in January.

BlueCross BlueShield "Suit Skates" for professionals in the downtown business district will be back between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursdays, as well as "First Niagara First Fridays," where the first 200 skaters get free admission. Other programs on and off The Ice include co-ed broomball leagues by Healthy Buffalo on Monday night; pond hockey and competitive broomball leagues by Game On! on Tuesday through Thursday nights; curling leagues Monday through Thursday nights; skating lessons by Skate Great on Friday nights and Saturday mornings; SABAH hockey clinic on Thursdays; history tours with Joel Dombrowski of Buffalo History Tours; and Buffalo City Carriage horse rides on the weekends.

More information on the schedule of events, parking and updates can be found at http://www.canalsidebuffalo.com. Visitors can take the NFTA Metro Rail to the Erie Canal Harbor Station stop; parking is available in adjacent parking ramps and lots.

Interested curling parties can reserve sheet time at www.bookingbug.com.

New hours of operation:

  • 3-7 p.m.: Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday
  • 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Thursday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving)
  • 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.: Friday/Saturday
  • 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.: Sunday

Hours may change during school breaks and on holidays, as well as during inclement weather. Visit Canalside's website or Facebook and Twitter accounts for the most up-to-date hours.

For more information on rates, visit https://www.canalsidebuffalo.com/seasonpass/.

"We are ready to skate again!" said Julie R. Snyder, vice president for corporate relations at BlueCross BlueShield of WNY. "We view this partnership with Canalside as a way to encourage everyone to stay active and healthy this winter season."

"Cricket Wireless is proud to be the exclusive wireless sponsor for the 2015 winter season at Canalside," said Tracie Manske, senior marketing manager for Cricket Wireless. "We're committed to the revitalization of Buffalo, and are so excited to be a part of a venue like this that fosters community growth and connectivity. We hope you'll enjoy the Cricket Wireless Warming Pavilion. Cricket is very excited to help kick off the winter season at Canalside. We wish to give our Buffalo residents, and all visitors to Canalside, 'Something to Smile About' this season!"

Canalside is a growing regional destination and entertainment district, situated on 21 historic acres along downtown Buffalo's emerging waterfront on the Buffalo River. Canalside earns its name from its storied past, when the Erie Canal Harbor was built in 1825 as the western terminus of the Erie Canal. Until five years ago, the land was barren and inaccessible, but the area has been reclaimed by ECHDC and developed with millions of dollars in public and private investment.

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