The temperature was just above freezing, but Sharon Harris and Anna Apicella were kept warm by several layers of clothes and a burgeoning friendship.
The Baltimore grandmother and the Towson teacher met last year at the ice rink in the Inner Harbor and decided to meet up again this year on Friday, the day the attraction opened for the season.
“It’s such a good time,” said Harris. “It’s become an annual tradition. I listen to music and I dance on the ice, and it’s a beautiful scene.”
The temporary rink, which plans to stay open daily through Jan. 15, is in its fourth year operating between the Harborplace pavilions in view of the water. Last year, the rink drew 19,000 skaters, according to its sponsor, Pandora.
The first 100 people received free passes, which normally cost $10 for adults and $9 for children, seniors and military. About 50 people were waiting at the 2 p.m. opening ceremony and the rest of the passes were given out over another hour and a half.
After 5 p.m, when the temperature hovered in the mid-30s, there were still about 20 people skating, gearing up to skate or preparing to leave. The rink has special hours on holidays but is usually open until 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Apicella said the ice was perfectly smooth this year and a joy to skate on, even in the cold. She planned to return again — temperatures were expected to exceed the seasonal average low of about 38 degrees going into next week.
Others didn’t mind the chill. Kristin McKale, visiting for the day from Philadelphia, said the lights strung above the rink gave the arena a festive feel. She said she isn’t much of a skater, but her friend Kyle Apriceno came with his own pair and led her around the rink.
McKale said Philadelphia has a similar rink that the pair have visited, but they said they were excited to learn Baltimore’s rink was opening during their visit. They skated after a day of dining and touring the National Aquarium.
“It has a good holiday vibe,” McKale said. “It basically already feels like Christmas.”
The rink is a component of the Waterfront Partnership’s “It’s a Waterfront Life” campaign launched in 2011 to attract local residents and visitors to the waterfront for holiday events, shopping and other attractions.