Mayor Michael Bloomberg handed out ice skates to middle schoolers today at the ribbon-cutting of a new ice-skating rink in Prospect Park. Credit: Spencer T. Tucker
A horde of local middle schoolers, several of whom said they had never ice-skated before, crowded the new Samuel J. and Ethel LeFrak Center in Prospect Park Tuesday morning, awaiting the arrival of Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
When the mayor arrived, the kids all jumped to their feet. "We should do a standing ovation," one little girl whispered to another.
The mayor handed out a few pairs of skates to students who didn't yet have them, then moved on to an adjacent building to announce the unveiling of the new ice-skating rink.
"I high-fived him!" a breathless boy said as the mayor's entourage brushed past.
Bloomberg hailed the Center as the largest and most complex capital project in Prospect Park in at least 120 years. It will be open year-round, and will offer a roller rink and swimming facilities in warmer months.
Like the popular High Line Park in Manhattan, the skating rink is the result of yet another public-private partnership between the Parks Department and the private sector — this time the Prospect Park Alliance. The vast majority of the public funding — $46 million out of a total of $54 million — came from the city, though state and federal officials also secured some funds.
Local officials were enthusiastic about the future of the ice rink and its role in the community.
"There'll be many marriages as a result of this," Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz predicted. "Or at least a few dates."