Our New Holiday Tradition: Ice Skating in Downtown DSM USA
It was a crisp evening a few days before Christmas when I decided to take my kids, then ages three, six and nine ice skating at Brenton Skating Plaza. I had worked near the open-air ice skating facility for eight years and always thought it looked so lovely. The rink looks over the Des Moines River and offers a beautiful view of Downtown Des Moines (DSM). I had always enjoyed watching skaters glide gracefully across the ice and I’d imagine my family doing the same. I felt that an evening at Brenton Skating Plaza would be a good opportunity to get some winter exercise, fresh air and revel in the beauty of Downtown DSM’s Historic East Village as it sparkled with holiday twinkle lights.
As the kids and I drove Downtown a voice in my head told me I was nuts. First, since my husband was working late, I was the only parent managing three young children on ice skates. More importantly, I didn’t know how to ice skate myself. I wondered if the only memories we were going to make were going to be of me completely losing my cool in a very Clark Griswold manner. Nevertheless, the fantasy I had created in my mind of gracefully sliding across the ice persisted and I was determined that we would do this.
A Family Affair
We arrived at Brenton and right away I was impressed at how thoughtful and helpful their staff was. They were interested in making sure we knew what we needed to do to create a superb experience. We got our skates and reserved a spot inside so that our shoes would be warm and dry when we were finished. We also rented ice scooters for my younger children. Lucky for me, my nine-year-old had been skating at Brenton numerous times with friends and at birthday parties. She would be my helper supreme.
With our skates laced and scooters ready we were set to take the ice. This is when I was really praying that the many years of ballet training I had as a kid would kick in and I would be able to balance and help my kids. I wondered, what had I gotten us into? I looked beyond the rink to see the Downtown DSM skyline glowing and reflecting itself on the river as holiday music filled the air. It was a beautiful site. Here we go!
As soon as we got onto the ice, a Brenton staff member welcomed us and asked if we needed help. He assisted us as my young boys got settled with their scooters, gave us some very helpful tips and away we went. Within the first trip around the ice we were laughing and having a wonderful time. I was surprised at how quickly my kids took to skating and how simple it really was. After many laps around the rink, we took a break to warm up and enjoy some hot popcorn. Then it was back on the ice for more skating, followed by another break to watch the Zamboni clean the ice and then one final lap. Then one more. And just one more. We had at least 10 final laps.
When we returned to our warm shoes we set off to explore the Historic East Village and grab some dinner. The kids adored seeing the Iowa State Capitol lit up as we shopped our way through the city. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then, exhausted from our adventure, we made our way home.
It’s been nearly a year since my family had this experience and in that year, my job has changed and I am now part of the team that manages this beautiful rink. You can bet that my family will be hitting the ice numerous times throughout the season and we hope to see you too.
View Brenton Skating Plaza's holiday hours, including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, by clicking here. Brenton Skating Plaza is open every day, weather permitting, including holidays until March 1. To learn more visit brentonplaza.com.