Photo by Theo Tate
Skating instructor Katie Wolk (left) prepares Grace Welser, Hannah Worthen and Kayden Barrios for the Ice Show March 1 at the Granite City Ice Rink.
GRANITE CITY — In 1973, the Granite City Ice Rink had its first Ice Show.
Since then, the show has been a big tradition in Granite City.
“We’ve been doing ice shows at the Granite Ice Rink for over 40 years,” said Kim Werths, coordinator of the show set for 7 p.m. March 1 and sponsored by the Granite City Park District. “They were doing those ice shows back when I was a kid because I used to skate in them when I was young. I’ve done about 25 out of 44 ice shows that have been there as far as directing them. I skated in probably all of them. For about 10 years, when I was having my boys (Steve and Aaron), I didn’t skate during that time.”
The show usually is scheduled at the close of the ice season, typicall the first week of March. Werths said the weather is usually cold during the event.
“One year, the night of the ice show was supposed to go down to eight degrees,” Werths said. “We actually cancelled it, then postponed it until later in the week when it was supposed to be warmer. The whole 25 years I’ve been there, I think we cancelled or rescheduled the show twice. The first time was for bitter cold and the other time we had an ice storm the day of the ice show. We’ve done ice shows when temperatures were down in the 20s, high teens. The average was in the 30s when we mostly had it. We’ve been lucky a few times. There were a couple of times when it was in the 50s. Most of the time, it has been pretty cold.”
The show returns for its 44th season. Werths said the performers this year will be mostly the skaters who have practice sessions at the rink.
“What we usually do is feature our learn-to-skate kids, the kids who have been taking learn-to-skate lessons all season,” she said. “We have each class do a number on the ice show, which starts from the little tots, the 3- to 5-year-olds, all the way up to the adult class. We had two ladies in the adult class, the one is in her 60s and she’s going to be skating a couple of programs from the show. The rest of the show is filled with soloists, who are kids who take private lessons. Usually, most of them are in freestyle higher levels. They’re taking lessons. They also do competitions. We have them do their programs in the ice show for solos. Some of them are not higher-level skaters, but they are the ones who are competing and who have programs that do competitions.”
The free show will last for an hour and a half.
“We do halftime breaks where they resurface the ice and the kids who are skating in the second half of the show get a chance to come out and skate around and warm up and give people in the stands a chance to go (inside the building) and warm up,” Werths said.
On Saturday, with temperatures in the 60s, several people were practicing for the show.
“You have warm weather all season and the night of the show, it turns really cold,” Werths said. “You have all of those little girls out there in their spaghetti strapped skating dresses and freezing. I don’t know if we really had an ice show where temperatures were as warm as they were (on Saturday).”
Werths has been involved in skating for almost 50 years. She remembered the rink being open for business in the late 1960s.
“I was 6 years old when that rink was built,” Werths said. “That’s when I started skating. I was probably in one of the first learn-to-skate (lessons) when they started learn-to-skate there after they built it brand new. I was 6 years old and started taking lessons. I skated there all of my life and when I was 15, my coach pulled me in and had me follow her around to learn coaching skills. When I was 16, they started paying me to coach there. Then when I was 18, the skate director left and they hired me to be the new director. So I was skate director from the time I was 18 until I was 28, and that’s when I was expecting Steve. I had to leave for a while; I had Steve and Aaron. Sometime after that, they called me and asked me if I’m willing to come back and I’ve been back ever since. I’ve been back for another 15-16 years.”
For more information, call the Park District at (618) 877-3059.