An icy tradition

Santa Claus is a busy guy this time of year, but he’s taking time out of his Christmas preparations for a few hours of ice skating in Laramie this weekend.

Skate with Santa is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. today at the Laramie Ice & Event Center, 3510 Garfield St. The event is free and includes refreshments and a small gift.

Devin Stalder, ice and fitness recreation program coordinator, said Skate with Santa has been a Laramie Christmas tradition for a few years, but it became a free event in 2016 as a way to allow more families to enjoy it.

“Any family in Laramie can take their kids to this event and really be a hero to their kids or child, without having to pay,” he said.

Stalder said many Laramie families have enough to worry about during the holiday season without the pressure of paying for another event. During Skate with Santa, they can simply have fun.

“We’re really trying to make it a fun experience for families to get together during the holidays,” he said.

Santa will spend some of his time showing off his moves on the ice, but he will also hang out in the lobby to visit and take pictures with those who don’t want to ice skate.

Last year, the first year the event was free, organizers expected several hundred people to take part. They were surprised when more than 600 showed up. Stalder said they’ll be ready for a similar crowd this year.

“We’re prepared for 600 (people),” he said.

Friends of Community Recreation is one of the event’s sponsors, and donations will be accepted on that organization’s behalf.

The group was started in the 1980s to find money to build the Laramie Community Recreation Center. Once that goal was completed, the group shifted its focus to supporting the local community. The group donates funds to area non-profits and provides assistance such as recreation passes to low-income families.

“There’s not a lot of ways for people to be able to donate in the community and know that their funds will stay in the community,” Stalder said. “When you donate to Friends of Community Recreation, your money is given directly back to the community of Laramie.”

He said everyone should come to Skate with Santa whether they make a donation or not.

“It’s a unique experience to be able to go out and skate with Santa,” he said.

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