Coliseum skating good for business and those needing a pandemic break

Updated: Feb. 21, 2021 at 9:44 PM CST
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The public ice skating may be over for this season at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, but it will have long-lasting effects. It was good for business, and it was good for those needing an active break during the pandemic.

Ice skating may take individual skill but talent or not, it’s better with buddies.

“I embarrass myself, but it’s fun,” said Gianna Gross of Slidell, LA.

Gianna and her friend Emily Bloss kind of make each other better on the ice.

“Thanks to my friend, Gigi, she helped me learn how to ice skate today,” Emily said. “She gave me some good ice skating tips.”

And falling on the ice wasn’t in the plans on this last day of public skating, but she has back up, just in case.

“I like it because if I go with my family, my family can help me if I fall and stuff,” Emily added. “And I have people comfort me.”

And it’s not just about the techniques.

“It makes for a good family bonding experience,” Gianna added. “It brings your family and friends closer because you have to. You’re not on your phone, you’re like doing something and it’s an activity. So, yeah. It gives us time to talk to each other and be with each other and have fun.”

Skating has been good for the Coliseum, which has been hurting due to the pandemic. Executive Director Matt McDonnell said around 20,000 people have laced up the skates since it began in late November.

McDonnell said the ice skating combined with private lessons, youth leagues and an amateur league helped generate revenue necessary to operate for the three-month period.

Emily’s mom, Lauren Savage, grew up in Illinois and she likes the opportunity this provides.

“We’ll, it’s not something you get to do very often,” said Savage. “Unless you have this sort of set up, you don’t get a frozen pond in your back yard to go ice skating on like I did as a kid. So, it’s a lot of fun for kids growing up in this area.”

McDonnell added that bookings are looking good for March, April, May and June, and he is optimistic that the Coliseum is finally turning the corner as more people receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

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