The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

San Mateo On Ice welcomes winter holiday cheer

Erik Cheng
Skaters are given a unique chance to experience the rink either in daylight and during the night as the Christmas lights turn on as the guests skate under the stars.

On Ice Rinks unfurls an 11,000-square-foot ice skating rink in San Mateo’s Central Park to celebrate the holidays. 

Opening on Nov. 11, On Ice Rinks opens its rink for visitors to skate from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays. Skaters purchase tickets on their website and are free to skate for designated operating hours. 

Additionally, On Ice Rinks opens its rink to skaters free on Nov. 16, Nov. 30, Dec. 7, Dec. 13, and Jan. 5 for their “Free Community Skate Day,” funded by their sponsors. 

“We realize that our prices are a little high. This year, we have five free skate days where skating and skate rental is completely free. I believe our free skate days benefit the community considerably because they have a chance to come out and enjoy the ice, no matter their socio-economic status,” said Nancy Mott, co-founder of On Ice Rinks. 

Starting in 2011, Mott and her husband Peter opened three ice skating rinks in Napa, San Rafael, and San Mateo, respectively. However, since 2019, they have chosen to downsize their operations. 

“We used to have three rinks; then we realized that was way too much for us to handle because we’re only open for two months. So in 2019, we decided just to only run one in San Mateo. Because it’s better to run one huge rink than to spread ourselves thin over three,” Mott said. 

Unlike most indoor rinks that support ice hockey or are jam-packed with figure skaters, San Mateo’s rink only supports recreational skating. Families are encouraged to get on the ice no matter their experience level. From this, local families are encouraged to visit yearly for the rink’s more relaxed and calm environment. 

Nicole Berrios, a 2016 Carlmont Alumna, has skated in various rinks across the Bay Area. Nevertheless, she believes that San Mateo On Ice has been the best experience for her and her family. 

“You get the fresh air at the rink, so you can enjoy the outdoors and the beautiful parks,” Berrios said. 

San Mateo On Ice is a seasonally open event, unlike the other rinks in the Bay Area. Starting in mid-November and ending in January, the rink leans into the holiday themes with festive music, lights, and Christmas trees.

Berrios, who visited the rink with her 5-year-old niece, appreciates the festive nature of San Mateo’s rink and its benefits to the community. 

“I’d say the rink brings the holiday spirit, gets the community together, and spreads some holiday cheer,” Berrios said. 

In addition, On Ice Rinks encourages local high schoolers to apply and work at the rink. Experienced skaters can help facilitate the skating experience on the ice as skate guards. Others can work at the concession stand and assist with admissions.

“If Central Park is like a cupcake. We’re the icing that comes in just during the holidays to make it a little sweeter,”

— Nancy Mott

Alex Stavosky, a junior at Design Tech High School, recently began working as a skate guard this year. Stavosky, who used to attend San Mateo On Ice every year, appreciates the chance to work for the organization that runs the event he enjoys. 

“Being able to ice skate is great. Getting paid for it is even better. Also, all the employees and the managers are super nice,” Stavosky said. 

Mott and her family work to continue the San Mateo On Ice tradition. However, despite their efforts, challenges still force them to adapt. 

“I’m always struggling to cover the first shift during the week. I usually end up with a few seniors who get out of school early. I do have a few older employees who are not high schoolers that have a different schedule,” Mott said. “But it’s still very difficult for me to cover that first shift because we open at two. And most schools aren’t out until three.”

Nonetheless, she strives to improve the rink and hopes to expand to new horizons. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, San Mateo On Ice had a smaller rink with synthetic ice for bumper cars to be enjoyed by guests. 

“We had some difficulty with the bumper cars, so the company we bought them for is reconfiguring their design. Once they get their update all done, we’re going to upgrade our bumper cars, and we’ll be bringing those back out hopefully next year,” Mott said. 

In the end, everything that Mott and her team have done would not have been possible without the support of the San Mateo City Council

“I have to say San Mateo City Council has been the best to work with. They truly are a partner. They are very supportive of us. They have really, really made it beneficial to the community by incorporating us into their winter wonderland. Before the pandemic, they used to host a big ice show. We give them the rink, and they would put on a spectacle for the community,” Mott said. 

With the COVID-19 pandemic winding down and the sense of normalcy returning around the Bay Area, Mott, Stavosky, and the rest of the On Ice Rinks team encourage Bay Area residents to visit the rink and participate in the yearly tradition. 

“I think it’s good to bring that holiday spirit in San Mateo,” Stavosky said. “San Mateo On Ice is just a great holiday tradition. The kids love it, and the parents love it too. It’s definitely one of the best ways the San Mateo community comes together during the holidays.”

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About the Contributor
Erik Cheng
Erik Cheng, Scot Scoop Managing Editor
Erik Cheng (Class of 2024) enjoys camping, backpacking, cooking, and photography. He currently serves as Managing Editor of Scot Scoop but continues to explore his passion for discovering local stories and investigation. You can find him discovering new communities in the area, hiking up mountains, desperately trying not to burn down his parents' kitchen, working at REI, or taking photos of the local flora and fauna. View his portfolio here.

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
San Mateo On Ice welcomes winter holiday cheer