GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins, Comcast and Fox Motors will present the 2009 Great Skate Winterfest this Saturday, Jan. 10 and Sunday, Jan. 11 at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids. Admission is free, although donations are encouraged and certain activity fees will apply. All proceeds benefit the Griffins Youth Foundation.
The inaugural Winterfest portion of the event kicks off at noon on Saturday, with a welcome from Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell, and continues until 10 p.m. A celebration of winter in our city, the Winterfest features a host of family-friendly events and activities, including:
• Ice skating - $1 skating fee/free skate rental
• Winter sports demonstrations: Burton Snowboards, Grand Rapids Sled Wings (Noon), Greater Grand Rapids Figure Skating Club (3 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.), West Michigan Speedskating Club (4 p.m.), GVSU Synchronized Skating Club (5 p.m.), Mascot Broomball (6 p.m.)
• Family activity tents (Noon-6 p.m.): Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Grand Rapids Public Library, Public Museum of Grand Rapids
• Games: box hockey, bubble hockey, accuracy puck shooting, “snowball” speed pitch
• Caricature drawings by David Wodarek (Noon-4 p.m.)*
• Dog sled rides by Shemhadar Kennels (Noon-6 p.m., weather permitting)*
• Ice sculpture demonstration by Ice Sculptures Limited (1 p.m.)
• Ice nameplates – Have your name carved in ice as a souvenir (2-3 p.m.)*
• Public “stoning” – Throw snowballs at local media personalities for charity*
• Climb aboard a snow plow or Zamboni
* Activity fee applies (ranging from $1-$10)
The seventh annual Great Skate will then commence immediately following the Griffins’ Saturday night home game against Philadelphia. Each Griffins player and coach will skate with fans for at least one hour around the clock, from 10 p.m. Saturday through to 10 p.m. Sunday. Fans willing to sponsor any player or coach’s participation in the Great Skate can make a secure on-line pledge by going to griffinshockey.com/greatskate.
Highlights of the Great Skate include no skating fee for fans; the participation of dozens of “celebrity skaters” from local media outlets; an ice sculpture demonstration by Ice Sculptures Limited at noon; and a visit from the John Ball Zoo’s winter animals from 1-3:30 p.m.
Participants will be able to warm themselves around fire pits and inside a warming tent, where they’ll enjoy coffee, hot chocolate and other refreshments, compliments of Starbucks and Meijer. Other supporting sponsors of the Great Skate Winterfest include Comerica Bank, the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, Dean Foods, Warner Norcross & Judd, Centennial Securities, Founders Bank & Trust, and The Gilmore Collection.
The current lineup of Griffins skaters for the Great Skate is as follows (subject to change; go to griffinshockey.com/greatskate for the most updated schedule):
Saturday, Jan. 10
10-11 p.m. - Griff
11 p.m.-Midnight - Justin Abdelkader and Darren Haydar
Sunday, Jan. 11
Midnight-1 a.m. - Jonathan Ericsson and Jamie Tardif
1-2 a.m. - Garrett Stafford
2-4 a.m. - Assistant coach Jim Paek
4-5 a.m. - Jan Mursak
5-6 a.m. - Sergei Kolosov
6-7 a.m. - Head coach Curt Fraser
7-8 a.m. - Jakub Kindl
8-9 a.m. - Mattias Ritola
9-10 a.m. - Tom Galvin
10-11 a.m. - Ryan Oulahen
11 a.m.-Noon - Jimmy Howard
Noon-1 p.m. - Evan McGrath
1-2 p.m. - Aaron Downey
2-3 p.m. - Darren Helm
3-4 p.m. - Francis Lemieux and Francis Pare
4-5 p.m. - Aaron Gagnon
5-6 p.m. - Ville Leino
6-7 p.m. - Jason Jozsa
7-8 p.m. - Cory Emmerton
8-9 p.m. - Daniel Larsson
9-10 p.m. - Logan Pyett
Established in 1995, the Griffins Youth Foundation promotes academic excellence, community involvement and healthy lifestyles among the youth of West Michigan, enhancing their lives through hockey and ice-related sports. For more information about the foundation, visit griffinskids.org.
The 2009 Great Skate Winterfest has been endorsed by the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness, Health and Sports.