San Mateo’s outdoor ice rink skates into town


Quinn Rolland

A worker at San Mateo’s Central Park ice rink helps a kid skate around the rink.

With the holiday season coming up, San Mateo’s outdoor ice rink skates its way into town, creating a fun winter wonderland activity for everyone to enjoy.

The outdoor ice rink returned to its annual location in San Mateo’s Central Park on Nov. 12. Its hours range from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., varying each day. The rink will be staying in San Mateo until Jan. 9.

After being closed last year because of COVID-19, Bay Area residents look forward to reopening the rink.

Ben Jones, an employee at Cognition Cyclery across the street from the rink, has observed people coming in and out of the ice rink over the last several years. He, too, has been to the rink many times with his wife.

“It’s a fun thing that brings family and friends together. A nice thing for the community to do collectively, and it’s an outdoor space thing, so it’s more COVID safe,” Jones said.

Pullquote Photo

This business is really personal, and it’s, you know, all the kids laughing and smiling and just people being happy. It makes it all worth it.”

— Nancy Mott

Nancy Mott, the co-owner of the rink, was disappointed when the rink had to close last year temporarily. 

“The kids that started skating when they were four are older now. I have kids who are now working for me that skated here for years, and we missed everybody,” Mott said.

San Mateo’s Central Park rink isn’t the only place kids grew up skating in; many have utilized other rinks throughout the Bay Area. Shira Sobol, a Carlmont senior, grew up in the local rinks and now works at San Mateo’s Central Park ice rink.  

“It’s tough because, in this area, skating is not as prominent as it is on the East Coast. So trying to find rinks in the vicinity is a struggle,” Sobol said. 

Last year, Redwood City’s ice rink closed due to COVID-19, the latest in a series of other Bay Area ice rink closures. These closures have devastated many skaters who frequented the rinks, forcing them to travel far to skate.

Not only do serious skaters come to these rinks, but the rink also entertains many amateur skaters who come with family and friends to enjoy skating around the holidays. 

“My favorite part is that I can skate with friends and family all the time. And it’s just, I mean, sometimes it’s hard to learn, but if you to do it like enough, it’ll be easy for you,” said Liana Mayfield, a 10-year-old skater.

The rink allows everyone to go skating with their friends and family. Even if you can’t afford its prices, there is an option for you. 

“Four different businesses sponsor days where anybody can come, and the skate rental is free. So it’s great for those who are hit hard by COVID-19,” Mott said.

The San Mateo rink provides a chance to skate for people who are financially struggling and for those who want to experience skating in other parts of the country.

“The outdoor rink during the holiday season has a different feel. It gives Californians that experience that all of the people on the East Coast get because it snows there,” Mott said.

This ice rink is a part of San Mateo, and people from all over the Bay Area love to come and visit it every holiday season.

“I think the ice rink adds a little bit of life and vibrancy to sleepy downtown San Mateo,” Jones said.