Hundreds of skaters kept Pleasanton's new outdoor skating rink busy over the weekend as many families took advantage of free horse-drawn carriage rides between the rink on Old Bernal Avenue and the Museum On Main downtown.
The weather helped, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-60s, drawing big pre-Thanksgiving crowds to Farmers Market and downtown stores and restaurants where special discounts were being offered. The good-weather weekend partly made up for a smaller number of shoppers Friday night when strong winds and rain moved into Pleasanton.
The city's first seasonal rink will operate through Jan. 10 on a portion of the public parking lot that serves the Pleasanton Library and Civic Center on Old Bernal Avenue.
Throughout the rink's operation, skaters will receive a 'Skater's Special' coupon in which they can receive gifts or discounts from more than 50 downtown Pleasanton retailers and restaurants.
The free horse-drawn carriage rides operate on Friday and Saturday nights through Dec. 12. For more information, contact the Pleasanton Downtown Association at 484-2199.
The Pleasanton rink is being operated and managed by San Jose Arena Management, which owns the San Jose Sharks, in a deal that was announced a few months ago between SJAM and the city of Pleasanton.
SJAM is paying all costs of building and operating the rink with the city contributing about $20,000 for added power and lighting, costs that will be reimbursed from SJAM profits from ticket sales and sponsorships. All net proceeds from the operations of the winter rink will be donated to Pleasanton education, sports and recreational activities.
The city and SJAM have signed a five-year contract for a holiday rink. The library location was not the preferred choice, however. City Manager Nelson Fialho said he hopes to persuade the owners of properties where Round Table Pizza or the now-closed Domus variety store are located to allow the rink on one of their parking lots next year. So far, these owners have refused.
The Civic Center-Library site was the original location that was approved by the City Council. Later, Fialho, at the recommendation of city staff and SJAM engineers, moved the proposed rink location to Delucchi Park, but was forced to retreat back to the Civic Center lot when several residents on Second Street complained to the council.
As a result of those complaints, at least two council members said they couldn't approve the Delucchi site without formal public hearings and possibly an environmental impact report. Those requirements would likely have put off this year's planned outdoor rink until next year, if then, so the rink site was moved back to the already-approved Civic Center site.
Pleasanton officials tried unsuccessfully to seek a temporary lease on a 3-acre empty strip of land across Old Bernal Avenue from the library that is owned by the city of San Francisco.
The Pleasanton rink will be open from noon to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Admission ranges from $10-$16 and includes the price of skate rental. For more information, visit www.devconholidayiccerink.com.