By DON O'BRIEN
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
The unseasonably warm temperatures on Saturday afternoon put a hint of Indian Summer in the air. What better way to spend the time than ice skating?
It may not have been real ice that people at River Skate Quincy were zipping around on, but it was the next best thing. Many people took advantage of the sun-splashed day to get a look at the newest addition to Quincy's riverfront in the parking lot of Clat Adams Park.
"I think it's a nice idea because it doesn't melt," said Holden Chamberlan, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Palmyra Middle School who was skating for the first time in his life. "It's a great idea for people to come and have fun."
The synthetic surface at River Skate won't melt, meaning people can take advantage of the site on warm days like Saturday just as easily as when the weather turns cold and more ice skating-like weather invades the area.
Those who showed up for the site's grand opening had a chance to learn how to stake on the surface by Perry Boskus, who created the Super-Glide surface used at River Skate.
An accomplished skater, Boskus had performed on synthetic ice surfaces as a performer. Those surfaces, he said, were only good enough for professionals to use. He wanted everyone to be able to skate without having to find ice to do it on.
"The goal was to make it good enough for the general public to skate," he said. "Before only professionals could skate on surfaces. I started adding solutions into the core of the product to make it better so the average person could go out and skate."
Around noon on Saturday, around a dozen people from children to adults were trying to master the surface. Chamberlan said it wasn't easy to learn, but 45 minutes into his skating career, he was able to get around without much problem. Giving kids those positive experiences, Boskus said, is key.
"It's difficult for little kids to get started on ice," Boskus said. "They fall and have bad experiences. Here, they can do it and have fun. This was built on a subfloor, so it's like a wrestling mat. If they fall, it has a little bounce to it. It's much better than real ice."
River Skate's skating area is about 2,500 square feet, according to owner Chris Dye. He said it took him about a week to set up the site at the north end of the Clat Adams parking lot. Boskus said the facility isn't close to being a full rink. He said it took 81 tiles to build the River Skate site. To duplicate the size of a full rink, it would take 551 such panels.
River Skate opened on Wednesday and has seen a steady increase of business since, Dye said.
"It's been amazing," said Dye, who owns the site with his wife, Marion. "There have been a lot of interested people coming in and taking a look at it and feeling it. Nobody knows what that synthetic ice is, and everyone is expecting a cold surface. It's not. It's 75 degrees and we're skating today."
Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for kids 12 and under, which includes a skate rental. Skaters use real ice skates on the surface. Dye said a maximum of 55 skaters can be on the ice at once.
River Skate will be open through Feb. 24. The site is open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from noon to 9 p.m. on weekends. It will have extended hours during school breaks.
Dye said the rink will have a Food Bank Night on Nov. 15. On Dec. 15, it will host a Skate with Santa event. For more information about River Skate, visit www.riverskateqcy.com.