Iceland celebrates North Sacramento’s 21st tree lighting with free skating

The North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce may have thrown its annual holiday tree lighting a 21st birthday party Dec. 8, but even the adults who donned skates, munched cookies and quaffed hot chocolate eschewed the slightest trace of yuletide cynicism in favor of youthful Christmas-morning smiles. Hosted by Iceland, the men and women, boys and girls who laced up courtesy of the venerable Del Paso Boulevard ice rink, barely noticed when the switch was thrown, and pumped current through the strings of multicolored lights that formed the "tree." Those who didn’t hit the ice themselves, found plenty of pre-Christmas cheer in picking out rinkside vantage points to watch singles, couples and entire families merrily go ’round and ’round covered by nothing but a starry, starry night.

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Iceland may open Saturday

Iceland's outdoor skating rink is expected to open Saturday after more than two months of delays. The landmark North Sacramento ice rink was all but destroyed by an arsonist last spring. The Kerth family, now operating Iceland as a nonprofit, and volunteers worked to reopen the rink – without a roof and many other amenities – by the facility's 70th anniversary on Nov. 4. The opening was delayed after family members learned they needed a special permit from the city Planning Commission. The Kerths will open a temporary rink at 1430 Del Paso Blvd. this weekend if city building inspectors approve handicapped-accessible ramps Thursday, said Midtown Business Association Executive Director Rob Kerth, whose family built the rink. The Kerths say they must get the rink open for at least part of the season, or they may not be able to raise enough money to rebuild. Skaters may never return to rinks closed for even one season, said Kerth and his sister, Terrie Kerth, executive director of the nonprofit, Sacramento Iceland. The Planning Commission awarded a special use permit in November. The rink's opening was delayed again when Sacramento City Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, whose district includes the rink, called for the council to reconsider the permit. Rob Kerth served as the district’s councilman prior to Sheedy. On Dec. 14, the council OK’d a three-year special permit […]

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Business, landmark milestones in 2010

The past year saw Sacramento businesses, cultural icons and landmarks from Tower Bridge to Cafe Marika celebrate significant milestones. Most notable was the Crocker Art Museum’s 125th birthday on May 8. That was just one aspect of the museum’s big year, which included the completion of a decade-long expansion project that opened Oct. 10. For more details about the Crocker in 2010, click here. The North Sacramento Land Company turned 100 in September, and the company’s president, Bob Slobe, credited the business’ longevity to staying small and having deep roots in the community. To read more about the company’s history and its ties to the California State Railroad Museum, click here. Also celebrating a birthday in 2010 was Tower Bridge, which turned 75 Dec. 15. Built during the Great Depression, the bridge replaced an older one connecting Sacramento and West Sacramento that had become too congested with traffic. In order to make it easy on the eyes, metal cladding was added to the sides to give it an Art Deco feel and provide some aesthetic covering to what would otherwise have been just a steel frame. Read more about Tower Bridge’s history here and read more about the birthday celebration itself here. The Iceland Skating Rink at 1430 Del Paso Blvd. was destroyed by a fire in March (for details, read articles by clicking here, here and […]

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Iceland to open doors this month

The opening of the remodeled Iceland skating rink in North Sacramento was approved unanimously by the City Council on Tuesday. The ice skating rink, which an arsonist burned down last spring, could reopen as early as Saturday, or on Christmas at the latest, according to Rob Kerth, the grandson of the couple who founded the rink. He commented on the city permit the City Council approved Tuesday night. “Iceland has the right to operate as an indoor facility at that location,” Kerth said after the council’s vote. “It doesn’t have the right to operate as an outdoor facility. What (the City Council) gave us was a three-year permit to operate as an outdoor facility. Within three years, we either need to put the roof on or get an extension.” Kerth said he wants to put on the roof two years from now, but he said he’s worried about the cost. He estimated the new roof could cost $500,000, at a minimum. “Honestly, I can’t promise we’re going to make it,” he said. “It takes a lot of money to get there.” Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy had lengthened the public process on the rink’s reopening by bringing the issue to the City Council. The Planning Commission would have been the last stop for reopening the rink, but Sheedy said the council should address it. But Sheedy praised […]

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Iceland to open: Free skating

Volunteers and ice-making equipment were hard at work Monday turning ashes into an ice rink. Debris from last spring's arson fire has long since been cleaned up. But efforts to lay down ice for the first time since Iceland burned just began Sunday night inside the thick concrete and rebar exterior walls that survived the flames. The Kerth family, now operating Iceland as a nonprofit, hopes to be able to open a 13,500-square-foot temporary outdoor rink as soon as Thursday afternoon. Earlier this month, the city Planning Commission awarded a special use permit needed because of the potential noise now that the rink at 1430 Del Paso Blvd. will be outside. A problem with the plan cropped up late Monday afternoon. At 4:30 p.m., Sacramento City Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, whose district includes the rink, requested that the permit be reconsidered by the City Council, said Midtown Business Association Executive Director Rob Kerth, a former city councilman. The lateness of her request means the item wouldn't be considered by the council until Dec. 14 at the earliest, and possibly not until January. That could keep Iceland from opening until it has a new roof – which would mean no skating this winter, said Kerth, adding neither Sheedy nor her staff contacted the family to discuss concerns. The conflict may be a bonus for skaters. The Kerths […]

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Celebrate Sacramento’s Iceland this Weekend

Friday and Saturday, there will be an opportunity to support the fire-devastated Iceland Skating Rink. Antique Maison Privee, located at 2114 P St, will be hosting the event from 7-10 p.m. on  Friday and it will feature light appetizers, wine, music and a video retrospective in addition to an art and a jewelry auction. Tickets cost $50 and are available on-line at icelandrestoration.com. Saturday from 5-10 p.m., the artwork of artist Wendy (Kerth) Nugent will be on display as part of Second Saturday. On March 28, a five-alarm fire gutted the historic Sacramento landmark. It didn’t take long for the Kerth family, owners of the arena, to realize that they needed to rebuild. Not just to preserve a piece of Sacramento history, but to provide a home away from home for the local skating community. The nearest rinks are now in Stockton and Roseville, a far drive for the young ice skaters who would visit the rink daily. Unfortunately, there was no fire insurance on the building, and the business had not turned a profit for many years. Rob Kerth called the last 30 years of operating Iceland a "labor of love." In order to rebuild, the Kerths have drawn upon the love that the community has for them. About 250 volunteers have come to the rink over the last four months to help with […]

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Rebuilding Iceland, rebuilding memories

 Stories flowed Sunday as people got down and dirty to help restore the Iceland ice skating rink. People shared memories of old times as they carried debris from the ice floor and helped to remove the wooden flooring around the rink. Sunday was the fourth day the owners of the rink have asked volunteers to help them clean. Terrie Kerth, granddaughter of the late Bill Kerth, who built the ice rink in 1940, said the response has been unbelievable. When the project began, she said, the debris on the rink was more than a foot tall. Now, it’s almost cleared, and the old rink will survive with some leveling. The wooden floors are being torn out and replaced with concrete. More than 100 volunteers have worked on the project, with about 40 coming Sunday to help finish the job. “When we had our first day, we just had a steady stream of people going with their wheelbarrows,” Kerth said. “It was just phenomenal, and we just kept doing it and it’s amazing the people who come time after time.” The family plans to reopen Iceland on Nov. 4 for its 70th anniversary. The rink will be open air for a while, but there are plans to install a roof in the coming years. “We’re starting a nonprofit called Sacramento Iceland and we’ll be raising money […]

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A New Life for ICELAND

 If the goal of the alleged arsonist(s) was to destroy the historic ICELAND ice-skating rink, it appears that it failed because the fire did not destroy the necessary mechanical ice-making device. As many know by know, the Kerth family property owners plan to have skaters on the ice again by late November 2010. While the building itself will probably not be rebuilt by then, plans are to provide in the meantime an open-air venue to skaters. Instead of an exterior protecting skaters from the elements, the new temporary facility will replicate an outdoor rink in snow country. All that will be needed to authenticate the scene is an overhead wind- blowing machine scattering a few white flakes intermittently onto skaters and spectators. The white flakes, of course, being left over from a Hollywood movie set depicting a winter scene here in the non-snowing city of Sacramento! So much for fantasy. A far more serious reality is that the original 1940’s building with its magnificent ICELAND sign did not have fire insurance and the cost to rebuild to its original design will be extremely challenging if not impossible in these economic times. Immediately subsequent to the fire there was much criticism, if not condemnation, heaped on Rob Kerth, a family member but non co-owner, for failing to carry fire insurance. One of the unkindest and silliest, […]

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5 Alarm Fire Destroys North Sacramento Landmark

A 5 Alarm Fire destroyed a Sacramento Landmark early Sunday morning. At 3:30 A.M. in the morning, the Sacramento Fire Department responded to a report of a vehicle fire endangering a building on Del Paso Blvd. Sacramento Firefighters arrived in about 3 ½ minutes and found heavy fire to the rear of the Iceland Ice Rink at 1430 Del Paso Blvd. Firefighters initially went inside the building and attempted an Offensive Attack, but quickly backed out when they determined the large volume of fire already burning overhead and the truss roof overhead which is a danger for collapse. The fire attack went to a Defensive one. The two adjacent buildings were spared due to the quick thinking and hard work of Firefighters who were able to deploy fire hoses between the buildings. Four Aerial Ladders were put up and water was sprayed onto the building from above. Sacramento Fire Investigators are and have been on scene. The ATF has been requested to assist with the investigation due to the size and dollar loss of the fire. The investigation may take a few days to complete. There has been much speculation as to the cause of the fire, but right now it’s all just speculation. Our Fire Investigators have a big job ahead of them, and hopefully they will be able to pinpoint a cause. The […]

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Historic North Sacramento skating rink burns down

You could smell the smoke as you approached the 70-year old structure on Del Paso Boulevard on Sunday morning. Dozens of firefighters looked to put out the five-alarm fire, but it was too late. ICELAND, the historic North Sacramento ice skating rink located on Del Paso Boulevard, burned down this morning leaving only its four main structural walls and iconic marquee standing. "This is probably the biggest icon that remained in terms of an entertainment venue in North Sac," said Robert (Bob) Slobe. "It’s a shame." According to early reports, ICELAND was open Saturday night until 12am for a private party. The fire started at 3:30am around a car parked behind the ICELAND facility. Fire crews worked to prevent the blaze from spreading to adjoing structues. ICELAND was built by the Kerth family in the late 1930s in conjunction with their other business, American Ice Company. The rink played host to iceskating, ice hockey, and ice shows. Former President and California Governor Ronald Regan skated at the facility, as did former boxer Max Baer. The facility just installed a $68,000 roof last year. Slobe hopes ICELAND is not torn down like the Del Paso Theater, which burned down 20 years ago in August of 1990. "There were efforts to rebuild the Del Paso Theater," said Slobe. "The problem there was the market is not there for single screen theaters […]

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