Iceland Celebrates 70th Birthday
Hot-pink neon sparkled once again on Del Paso Boulevard as Iceland celebrated a very special birthday: seventy years of entertainment, hopes fostered and dreams achieved, and a well-deserved place among the cultural icons of Sacramento.
But this birthday bash was much more than cake and candles.
An arsonist reduced the landmark ice rink to charred rubble in March 2010. The roof caved in; the beautiful glass-brick façade was destroyed—and suddenly Sacramento’s ice skaters were homeless.
Through a heroic volunteer effort, the cleanup began immediately. Generations of skaters and their families, community groups, local businesses, and fans of the annual ice shows pitched in to help.
A volunteer does some last minute electrical work.
Randy Chapman of Chapman Equipment Solutions had recently done some work on the Zamboni and was quick to pitch in to help.
The Zamboni was charred and crushed beneath the fallen roof. Randy Chapman and his crew donated over $10,000 in labor, parts and materials to repair and restore the machine. It has taken over 6 months of effort just for the Zamboni; Randy’s crew also put in many hours on the site cleanup.
The refurbished floor nears completion.
Said Steve McCarthy Sr, the general labor coordinator (and Zamboni operator): “It’s been just a lot of hard work. Lots of volunteers put in hours and hours of work.” Sunbelt Rentals donated a skip loader, On The Go Graphics created a beautiful wrap for the restored Zamboni, and countless other community businesses have also volunteered their services and equipment to help the restoration effort.
The birthday bash was due to feature skating, but the warm weather made it impossible to create and maintain ice.
Terrie Kerth, right, the executive director of Iceland with sister Wendy Nugent and T.J Nugent.
Terrie Kerth, granddaughter of founder Bill Kerth, is a former national skating competitor. She expects that Iceland will be open by Thanksgiving as a seasonal open-air skating venue, as soon as the weather cools down enough. Iceland will close down for another year after the winter season, and they hope to reopen as a fully operational year-round rink —with a roof– by next winter.
Hotdogs and hamburgers were served to the crowd.
The crowd at the birthday party included hundreds of fans, many of whom were former and current skaters. Chuck Kanoff met his wife Shirley on this ice in the 1950’s; they went on to ice dance in Los Angeles and Seattle. Tim Walton is the current president of Sacramento Iceland, and the son of legendary ice dancers and coaches Walter and Clara Walton. Many current skaters, including Naomi who has skated in the Disney on Ice touring company of “High School Musical”, were there to cheer as the sign was lit. Goalie Jason Dreger said he’s had to go to Roseville for hockey and is eager to return to Iceland as well.
Chuck Kanoff, a longtime skater at Iceland, met his wife here in the 1950′s.
An Iceland fan ready to test the ice.
For skating coach and ice show director Janelle Loburg Cardoso, Iceland is home. She has taken her 30-some skaters to Stockton and Vacaville rinks to continue their training until they can return to Iceland.
The ice shows for which Iceland is famous are currently being produced at the Westfield Downtown Ice Rink at St. Rose of Lima Square by Janelle and Debi Segal Gold, another Iceland competitive skater and coach. Both look forward to returning to their home rink at Iceland.
(Coincidentally, the downtown ice rink was designed by Iceland founder Bill Kerth’s grandson Rob Kerth, SMUD Board Member and North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce president and former city councilmember and mayoral candidate. Rob also owns Ice Unlimited, Inc., the ice company next door to Iceland which was not damaged in the fire. Ice Unlimited provides all the ice-making equipment for Iceland.)
Rob Kerth addresses the crowd before the sign is lit.
Said Dianne Coiner Mendoza, who skated at Iceland from 1968 to 1975: “Everyone should know about Iceland—the lives this building has touched, the memories… Iceland lives in your heart.”
Dianne Coiner Mendoza hugs Tim Walton, current President of Iceland.
The neon pineapple atop the Iceland sign is lit for the first time since the 1940′s.
To help with the Iceland restoration project, please visit http://www.skatesacramento.com, or call 916-992-4832.
You can sponsor a glass brick to restore the façade, or participate as a volunteer or a donor.
Iceland Ice Arena is on Facebook.
Photos | Kati Garner