Winter Wonderland at Oceanside Place

Victor Kraatz Arena gets a festive holiday makeover

Marissa Jordan peeks out from behind some of the greenery being hung in the arena with care

Arena staff and a few volunteers set to work early Tuesday morning, and by that evening Victor Kraatz Arena had been transformed into the Parksville tradition that is the Winter Wonderland On Ice.

This is the ninth straight year Oceanside Place has hosted the ambitious Yuletide tribute, which combines lighting and displays for the feeling of skating on an outdoor pond, and organizers are expecting big turnouts as always.

“It’s going good, really good,” arena programmer Val McNutt said with a smile before heading off to help out with something else when The News stopped by on Tuesday.

Arena staffer Mike Chestnut was all smiles from high above in his lift while he was hanging the snowflakes with care, Britney Slade was a vision of patience as she untangled strings of lights, and local female hockey standout Marissa Jordan was up to her ears in fir trees there for a while and she didn’t mind a bit. Skate attendant Dean Bull was overseeing the reindeer, and figure skaters Justine Elves and Hilary Harris were clearly pleased to be playing the part of Santa’s little helpers.

“I’ve seen them (setting up) before, so I thought this year I’m going to volunteer to help out, I mean I play hockey here all the time so why not,” Taylor Klassen, 20, said from atop the step ladder while hanging lights along the end glass, then chuckled and agreed, “it’s easy to get into the Christmas spirit in these surroundings.”

There were about 17 people pitching in on Tuesday, and according to Val, it takes approximately 150 people hours to put up the displays, “plus months of preparations. There are 100’s of strings of lights,” she said when asked for some insight into what goes into the display, adding “each year more are purchased as we gradually replace old strings with energy efficient LED lights. Donations of display items come in yearly and help make it more efficient to keep changing the displays slightly.”

New to the Winter Wonderland this year is a penguin display with plenty of pop created by the Ballenas Secondary School art students.

“It is a beautiful display combining a mural background with a 3-D effect of active penguin cutouts,” said Val.

In 2011, over 4,000 skaters took to the Winter Wonderland ice over 11 days.

“Between schools, private rentals and public skate sessions, we are booked solid morning to night. Our biggest day last year was Dec. 15 and we had over 670 skaters that day,” said McNutt.

Over 500 skaters turned out on Wednesday for the official unveiling of this year’s Winter Wonderland.





Highlights include: Tim Hortons Free Admission Skates — Sat., Dec. 17 and Sun, Dec. 18 from  2-3:30 p.m., and the Parksville Lions Free Family Skate on Sunday, Dec. 18 from 12:15 – 1:45 p.m.

Public skating started  Thursday, and there are public sessions daily, with the last session on Monday, Dec. 26.





“This event would not be possible without all the services and support provided by the following organizations and businesses: Ballenas Art Class, Branching out Tree Service, Central Building Supplies, Dolphin Bay music Students, KenDor Nursery, OK Tires, Parksville Lions Club, Save On Foods, Weatherwise Industries, Tim Horton’s, Whiskey Creek Christmas Tree Farm, Steele Creek Pole Corp.







Just Posted

Courtenay-Alberni NDP MP Gord Johns says Scheer’s resignation not surprising

Pressure is on NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, as the lone major party leader remaining in the opposition

Parksville and Qualicum Beach looking for firefighters

Those interested can attend regular practice night

Experiment from Ballenas students heads to International Space Station

Entries from 23 countries; Ballenas is one of 11 schools chosen in Canada

Public hearing set for affordable housing development in Parksville

Council passes two bylaws, eyes 130 Shelly Rd. as affordable housing units for families

No injuries reported in five-vehicle pileup in Nanoose Bay

Traffic slowed briefly on Monday afternoon

‘Not a decision I came to lightly:’ Scheer to resign as Conservative leader

Decision comes after weeks of Conservative infighting following the October election

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

UPDATE: University student dies, another injured in car crash in Nanaimo

Students part of Vancouver Island University’s automotive program

B.C. SPCA seizes dogs chained up outside among scrap metal, garbage

Shepherd-breed dogs were living in ‘deplorable conditions.’

B.C. plane crash victim identified; witnesses describe ‘explosion’

He was a flight instructor, charter pilot and owned an airstrip before leaving Alberta

BC Hydro offers tips as collisions with power poles increase

Region with the largest spike in collisions was the Lower Mainland at 16 per cent

Canadian airline passengers to be eligible for $1,000 in compensation for delayed flights

Passengers can also receive compensation for overbooking, lost luggage and other inconveniences

RCMP must bury three sex mannequins found in Manning Park

Police tasked with ensuring the mannequins were completely disposed of

Most Read