Community members and officials celebrated the start of construction on Aiken's temporary ice skating rink and holiday village with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Citizens Park on Monday morning.
Just behind the ceremony, workers began to assemble the outer frame of what will be the city's first temporary synthetic ice skating rink.
The 66-foot by 130-foot rink will be surrounded by a holiday village where visitors can purchase crafts and concessions.
Local business owners Mike Fanning, with All Star Tents and Events, and Norman Dunagan, with Dumpster Depot, have a three-year agreement with the city to host the rink at Citizens Park through their company, HolidIce.
"We are super excited about this project," Dunagan said. "We came to the mayor with this idea and his being receptive to it was just so uplifting."
Citizens Park serves as a parking area for the thousands who attend Christmas in Hopelands.
Mayor Rick Osbon said the city looked at several locations but decided to place the rink in the park to provide a new holiday experience for visitors as they wait to be transported to Hopelands.
"This is going to draw much further than the boundaries of Aiken," Osbon said.
Aiken Chamber of Commerce President David Jameson said the rink was a wonderful new investment for the community.
At the ribbon cutting, Jameson spoke about a yearlong project the chamber conducted two years ago on how to make Aiken a more compelling place to live.
The report called for the city to hold more events for young families, early career professionals and for multi-generational families that live in the area.
"This is one of those things that is going to be attractive," Jameson said. "People have had to drive to other places to go ice skating at Christmas time. It adds to a list of things that are already available in Aiken during the holiday season."
Although the weather has delayed construction, Fanning said HolidIce is still on schedule to open Nov. 27 at 5 p.m.
The rink will be open seven days a week until Jan. 5.
"What a great Christmas season this is going to be to have a holiday experience like you see on TV," Dunagan said. "We're going to be able to get families out here to enjoy Aiken together."
For ticket prices and open hours, visit https://www.holidice.com/.