Denison reports record numbers for Denison on Ice 2021

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Area residents and guests take part in some holiday fun at Denison on Ice Dec. 18. The ice skating rink opened for its sixth consecutive year in 2021, with the city reporting record numbers of participants.

The annual Denison on Ice skating rink is poised to have set a record for attendance and participation in 2021 based on preliminary numbers.

Early counts for attendance show that more than 10,000 people participated by skating this year. Many others, including those who watched from the stands, attended the event but did not skate. In total, it has been estimated that about 13,500 people attended in some form this year.

"This was a very successful event based on the data we have, but we are still receiving data points," Parks and Recreation Director Justin Eastwood said. "From what we can see from registration, we passed our previous high." 

This past year marks the sixth year for the event, in which the city installs a temporary ice rink in the heart of downtown Denison. The event was initially suggested by Main Street Director Donna Dow based on the success she had seen hosting similar events in other cities.

Previously, city officials have applauded the annual event for its ability to draw in visitors from outside Denison while also appealing to residents. While rinks may be more accessible in larger cities and the Metroplex, Denison's rink represents one of the few attractions in Texoma.

Area residents and guests take part in some holiday fun at Denison on Ice Dec. 18. The ice skating rink opened for its sixth consecutive year in 2021, with the city reporting record numbers of participants.

Eastwood attributed the strong numbers this year, in part, to increased activities for 2021. The city downscaled the number of special event nights in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a need for social distancing. While the size of the rink allowed for many social distancing practices to take place, officials felt comfortable reintroducing some of the activities in 2021.

Beyond the ongoing pandemic, Eastwood said the event saw few issues this past year and had no days of operation lost to maintenance or other concerns. While the December weather did prove to be hotter than normal, tents that were added in 2020 helped keep the ice cool enough to remain a solid skating surface.

With our tents, we believe it allowed us to withstand the weather that would normally hinder our operations," Eastwood said

The city has yet to finalize the revenue count for this year, but Eastwood said he is predicting that the revenue will cover the operating costs of the rink. However, some costs, including may not be covered by how much the rink took in this year. These numbers should be finalized in the coming weeks.

Beyond the revenue itself, however, Eastwood said the event has other benefits for Denison in that it exposes the city to people who otherwise may never visit it. These visitors then are introduced to the many businesses in downtown and hopefully visit them for dining, shopping or other services.

"While we don't have their metrics, they (businesses) have said the appreciate the traffic that is going on," he said.

Area residents and guests take part in some holiday fun at Denison on Ice Dec. 18. The ice skating rink opened in November and will continue to see site patrons until Jan. 1.