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Plans nixed for ice skating rink at Patchogue's 'Winter Wonderland'

Patchogue officials say the village wasn't ready for

Patchogue officials say the village wasn't ready for an ice rink to Main Street this year, but plan to include it in next year's holiday festivities. Credit: Gordon M. Grant

Patchogue’s “Alive After Five Winter Wonderland” will go on without its centerpiece attraction.

An ice skating rink that would have been a first for the village was pulled from the plans of the one-day event — a culmination of several holiday celebrations and designed to drum up holiday sales for downtown retail stores. 

“The money, it really came down to it. It was contingent on us being able to raise the funds,” Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce executive director David Kennedy said in an interview.

Lori Belmonte, co-owner of The Colony Shop, led a newly-formed holiday committee which oversaw fundraising and planning.

The group is a subcommittee of the business promotions committee in the chamber.

Belmonte said her group only raised $4,000, far short of the $20,000 they sought to bring the synthetic rink to Main Street and pay for other activities.

“I was a little disappointed, but it was a big undertaking to put together in six weeks,” Belmonte said, adding those who made financial contributions have allowed the group to spend the money as needed for the Dec. 20 occasion.

Village officials said there was also the fear of overcrowding and long wait times as demand to skate across the ice appeared to be larger than anticipated.

“There were expectations because of the excitement generated and social media,” Kennedy said.

Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri agreed the village wasn’t ready for the rink.

“It was a chamber decision and really a right decision,” the mayor said. “The biggest piece of it is if you can’t satisfy all the people that come to Main Street then you don’t get into it.”

The winter street fair is a spinoff of the village’s most popular summer festival with the hopes of drawing a December shopping crowd.

Officials initially touted the event as a family affair highlighted by the village’s first ever downtown ice rink. Enthusiasm spread quickly, but it was hastily planned.

“It was kind of a last minute idea and there was a lot of public interest,” Kennedy said. “When we really sat down and looked into it,” there were concerns of overcapacity.

Kennedy said there are still plenty of activities to draw customers to Main Street on that day such as a retail scavenger hunt, ice sculptors, a trackless train ride and Santa Claus.

“It’s a great reason to come down,” Kennedy said.

Officials are now targeting next year to bring the rink to Patchogue.

Belmonte said the committee will start planning the 2019 wonderland in a few weeks.

“We still do want to do an ice rink, the plan would be for next year and find a better location for it so we won’t have to close down Main Street and we can keep it up for a day or a weekend,” Kennedy said.

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