Winter in Point Loma? Liberty Station’s outdoor ice rink provides a holiday feel
Net proceeds support cancer care at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.
An ice skating rink is a lot of things. It is a milky white stage where everyone is the star of their own fantasy on ice. It is a fight ring for wrestling down fears — of falling, getting up again or looking weird while doing either. It’s a runway for all sorts of leaps. It is a ticket to a certain kind of calm.
A San Diego outdoor ice rink is one more: a little disorienting. Does it feel like summer or winter? Should you wear gloves or a tank top? Sip hot chocolate or iced coffee?
The Rady Children’s Ice Rink at Point Loma’s Liberty Station opened Nov. 17 for its 26th year, drawing people looking for a hint of winter among the palm trees. During a visit Nov. 20, Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” was blasting from the speakers instead of Michael Bublé, but it was starting to feel a lot like the holidays.
Holiday time has arrived, and Point Loma and Ocean Beach are ready.
Net proceeds from the rink support the Thriving After Cancer program at the Peckham Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.
Three visitors talked with The San Diego Union-Tribune about what it means to spend time ice skating with family members in San Diego.
The almost-teenager flying almost solo
Veronica Nessheim was one of the first people on the ice, lacing up as the rink opened at 10 a.m. At age 12, she is doing more by herself these days. This day, she skated alone as her mom, Natalia, watched her and read from a nearby bench.
It was a mother-daughter outing. Veronica’s friends would have gone, but they were out of town.
Is it harder to spend time as a duo now that Veronica is almost a teenager?
“Honestly, I don’t think it’s hard,” Natalia said. “It’s just, you have to cater to their needs, which activities they like.”
They live in Rancho San Diego, and Liberty Station is a family favorite.
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Veronica has been skating since she was in first grade and now it’s second nature. “It’s pretty much like walking, but faster,” she said.
On the ice, she feels like a little kid again. “It’s nice and calming. It’s an easy way to get out of, like, life. Like all the hard things and stuff.”
A lot of extracurriculars eat into weekends, said Veronica, who studies honors English and advanced math at her Spanish and Mandarin immersion school.
How does she feel about spending time with her mom? “Honestly, now I just wanna stay away from my parents as much as possible. Sorry, mom.”
“That’s OK,” her mother said gently.
On the ice, Veronica glided past other skaters at a leisurely pace, her bright pink sunglasses, wavy bangs, pink T-shirt and pale blue jeans giving off an ‘80s vibe.
“It’s nice and calming. It’s an easy way to get out of, like, life. Like all the hard things and stuff.”
— Veronica Nessheim, 12
The grown-up looking for wintry fun and a good cause
Karis Dobson’s daughters have been excited to go ice skating since last winter.
“Every year, there’s a huge period of time between ice skating,” said her older daughter, Raegan, 10, who added that it can be hard to wait.
Aria, 5, said she likes skating fast.
The family lives in Point Loma and will probably go back a few times this season. “It’s nice to have a fun winter activity when it’s 75 degrees outside,” said Karis, 38.
The girls and their mother had just stepped off the ice and Karis was doing a few things — coordinating with friends, tending to a child’s complaints about skates being uncomfortable, checking in with her husband and their 3-year-old son. They didn’t stay at the rink all morning, but they got their hands stamped so they could return in the afternoon. Maybe. The day was pleasantly in flux.
“We didn’t skate that long today. But knowing that it’s going to Children’s Hospital, I wasn’t as worried about getting my bang for my buck,” Karis said.
At some point, she added, she wouldn’t mind having a few minutes on the ice without a little person hanging onto her arm. “It’s kind of nice when the kids sit down,” she said. “Just to be going a little fast, getting your groove, feeling like a kid again.”
The doting onlooker
Nancy Coombs didn’t see her grandchildren in person for about a year and a half during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. They live in San Diego. She lives in the Bay Area.
“The little one is 4, so I missed her whole third year,” said Coombs, 71.
But as the kids, now 4 and 6, and their parents moved past her on the ice at Liberty Station, Coombs soaked in what she had missed all those months.
She surveyed them from a shady spot, on firm ground.
“I haven’t been on the ice for a long time,” Coombs said. “As an old lady, my balance isn’t — your balance ages just like everything else.”
The last time she was on ice skates was about 10 years ago. Tennis is her sport, she said.
She said she doesn’t miss skating, but she does remember liking it. “I love the freedom of it, being out on the ice. It’s kind of like cycling, you know? When you bicycle, you’re kind of free. Just the movement.”
Growing up in Oregon, Coombs loved playing outside. Rain didn’t stop her. Now she loves seeing her family living an outdoorsy lifestyle.
Her son walked over; they were finished skating. It was time for the next adventure: lunch.
Rady Children’s Ice Rink
Where: Liberty Station’s Legacy Plaza, near 2875 Dewey Road, Point Loma
Hours: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily through Sunday, Jan. 8, except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
Cost: $20 for adults and $15 for children, including skate rentals. Discounts are available online and for the military.
Information: rchicerink.org, (619) 221-1970