An artist rendering from the City of Hanford shows what the Winter Wonderland attraction will look like when it goes live in November.
Written by Breanna Hardy
Downtown Hanford is lighting up its historic Civic Auditorium for an inaugural Winter Wonderland this holiday season.
After a hard 16 months with modified gatherings, Hanford is bringing an ice skating rink to attract residents in surrounding counties.
“It’s really a unique and a historic setting that we think is unlike anywhere,” said Brad Albert, parks and community services director for the City of Hanford. “So we’re lucky to have that location.”
The Parks and Community Services Department in Hanford is bringing a 50-by-70-foot ice rink from Magic ICE USA, and will come with 300 pairs of ice skates for the public. The event is centered in Downtown Hanford’s Civic Park from Nov. 20 to Jan. 9.
“We’re planning on creating what we’re calling Hanford’s Winter Wonderland event,” said Albert.
It will be open seven days a week with food vendors, hot cocoa, photos with Santa on Saturdays and live entertainment. A beer and wine garden, managed by Main Street Hanford, will operate Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays with live music. Live music and marketing will be funded by Main Street Hanford.
The Winter Wonderland event is the first of its kind in Hanford, and Albert hopes to make it a tradition in the park. After not having holiday festivities to this caliber since 2019, Albert said he hopes people are excited to get out for the event.
“We’re finding people are really thirsty to get out and to socialize and be with their families,” he said.
Albert has past experience with consultants who worked for Disney, and he said that through listening to these consultants discuss their holiday events, it’s all about the senses. Albert carries this into planning – thinking of the music, food taste and smells, chill of the ice and allure of the lights.
“It’s all about the experience. We have one shot at this first impression,” Albert said.
He hopes to partner with Amtrak so people can take the train to and from the event. He also hopes to attract businesses for parties.
Tickets will be sold at the event and online, and include ice skate rentals and an hour and a half on the ice.
The department has been successful at putting on annual events including the Renaissance Fair, Father-Daughter and Mother-Son dances.
The hope is for the Winter Wonderland to become a tradition.
“That would be the long range goal. Of course, this is a financial commitment on the city,” Albert said.
The rink was adopted as part of the overall budget for fiscal year 2021-2022. Staffing expenses total $206,300 and the projected revenue is $145,563. However, since the development of the budget, additional revenue sources including sponsorships and vendor revenue splits have been in the works.
The City of Hanford is advocating it will be beneficial to locally owned businesses and the community as a whole, as the city’s goal is for the rink to be a regional destination for Kings, Tulare, Fresno and Kern counties. With wrist bands, customers can get a 10% discount at select businesses, and the city hopes it will generate revenue.
The city is targeting young families and millennials for the attraction.
The rink will operate from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays. In addition to public skating hours, it will also be available for school field trips during the weekdays, private parties and ice skating classes.
“If we can create great experiences, people will come,” he said.