Mia Freeman’s Miami roots don’t show in the rink. Rather, she is 14 again and gliding over a deep-frozen pond at a Boston prep school. Or, a few years later, she is a college student at Rockefeller Center. Her dormitory is but a train ride away from Manhattan, a metropolitan winter wonderland: People in the city’s famous rink are moving in a dizzying circle; ornaments are glinting in festive lights.
And those years of nostalgia is how a Florida native brought ice-skating to Hendersonville. The urban-beautification org America in Bloom, of which Freeman is the local chair, is the benefitting nonprofit.
Of course, the “ice” set to occupy the Henderson County Travel and Tourism Visitors Center parking lot this winter is synthetic, and requires a good scrubbing at 45-minute intervals. It’s known as a safer alternative to real ice because it’s dry. An antidote to our unusually warm weather that saw roses blooming through Thanksgiving, “this feels more like the holidays,” she says.
At the very least, her faux frozen lake, a first for the city, will complement other Christmas additions to Main Street. This month, carriages will meander down cobblestone-less paths and Santa Claus will open his streetside operations to visitors.
In keeping with merry measure, orthodontist Dr. Joe Farrar has already sponsored the Henderson County Boys and Girls Club, making their 45-minute skate sessions free. And just last week, says Freeman, she received inquiries from hockey teams and a woman looking to sharpen her skates.
Christmas spirits are certainly high, but novices need not fear. For one, even synthetic rinks have railings, and no judgment will be passed on those hugging the sides. Also, the artificial ice isn’t as slick as a New England lake, or even an indoor hockey rink.
“You’ll be sliding, but not as easily,” explains Freeman. Still, she suggests inexperienced participants tread lightly and “tiptoe” their way in.
Even the inevitable wipeouts will be good for Facebook, though.
“What a memory maker,” says Freeman. “Grandparents, parents, and kids: entire families. It’ll feel like home.”
“Ice-less Ice Skating on Main,” held at 201 South Main St. and co-sponsored by the Henderson County Tourism Development Authority and America in Bloom, runs December 20 through January 1, including Christmas Day. 10am-8pm. $8/adults, $5/kids (cost includes skate rental). An information session for interested volunteers will be held December 1, 5:30-7:30pm. Call 828-693-9708 for more information.