The holiday spirit has arrived in San Francisco's Civic Center with the inaugural opening of the center's first ice rink.
Friday morning, San Francisco Mayor London Breed helped open the Winter Park at Civic Center ice rink along with help from Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano.
Located just across from San Francisco City Hall, the rink is just one of several features recently added to Civic Center Plaza, including a new playground and the Bi-Rite Cafe.
"We have so many people who visit this area from all over the Bay Area and all over the country. And Winter Park at Civic Center is just really, I think, a jewel to add to what we already know is going to be an incredible holiday season," Breed said.
Bay Area resident and Olympic skating champion Brian Boitano said, "It's not only beautiful, but it's also one of the best ice surfaces in the world by far."
After opening the rink, some 200 kids from elementary schools in the nearby Tenderloin neighborhood as well as children from Boitano's youth skate program took to the rink, which is open through Jan. 6.
The rink is being operated by Willy Bietak Productions and is modeled after the Wiener Eistraum in Vienna, Austria, the famed outdoor rink overlooking Vienna's City Hall.
"There's a feeling about this that it's bigger and better than anything we've ever done before... This one is very special," Robert Keith of Willy Bietak Productions said. "Because of the location, we're expecting to see people who maybe never had the opportunity to go skating."
Willy Bietak Productions is named after its president, a former skating champ from Austria. The company is also responsible for the Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square, now in its 11th year.
The Winter Park at Civic Center rink will be open daily from noon to 10 p.m. with tickets at $20 for adults. Children under 8 years old can skate for $5 during the first two sessions, which start at noon and 2 p.m. After 4 p.m., tickets for children under 8 are $15.
Tickets can be purchased at the ice rink ticket window or online at www.winterparkicerinksf.com.
The Winter Park at Civic Center rink is also being put on with help from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks department, which runs Civic Center Plaza.
In a statement, parks department manager Phil Ginsburg said, "San Franciscans deserve to experience holiday magic, especially those right here in the neighborhood. The Civic Center is coming alive and we want everyone to reap the benefits."