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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Philadelphia’s Own Winter Wonderland

View of the Ben Franklin Bridge from Penn’s Landing. Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.

As I rolled off the exit ramp of I-95, the holiday lights of Christopher Columbus Boulevard flooded my car. All around me people were walking with their companions while taking in the holiday-themed Penn’s Landing. Shops were lit up with signs advertising holiday sales and restaurants were covered top to bottom in decorations. Situated right in the middle of all this madness is the Independence Blue Cross Winterfest.

The Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest runs from now through March 5, 2017. Hours of operation vary depending on the day and weather, but generally the facility opens at 1 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. on weekends.

Instead of going alone, I decided to take along three of my younger cousins because I figured this would be a cool and rather inexpensive activity. With my young cousins itching with excitement in the back seat of my car, I pulled up to the entrance of the gate. I was taken aback when the attendant at the meter proclaimed, “Parking for the waterfront rink is $20. Admission is free.” There is street parking further down Christopher Columbus Boulevard, but it would have been about a mile walk in the cold. Reluctantly, I forked over the $20 to the attendant.

RiverRink Winterfest is not just a rink with  a few picnic tables. As soon as you walk in, there is a sitting area equipped with heaters and even private shelters available for rent. It also includes an outdoor ice rink and  two warm, enclosed areas in the middle of the complex. One houses popular Philadelphia vendors, such as Chickie’s and Pete’s. Other food items for sale include cheesesteaks, soft pretzels, and even veggie burgers. The other enclosure holds an arcade equipped with just about every game one could imagine.

After sifting our way through the crowd, we finally made it to the back of the complex finding the tent to purchase tickets. Skating tickets are $3 and skate rentals are $10. Luckily for my wallet, we all brought our own skates.

Now in its fourth year, the popular Blue Cross Winterfest has become the signature seasonal feature of the waterfront park.

Colby Trouts and Casey Bennett came to enjoy the attraction after seeing it mentioned on social media.

“We had seen people coming here last year during the holidays and never got around to trying it ourselves,” Trouts said. “So after seeing it advertised this year, I figured we would come early before it started to get crowded for the holidays.”

Bennett had been pushing to have a date night here all winter.

“I was just happy when he suggested it,” Bennett said. “It really is a cool attraction along the waterfront and one that I think is unique to Philly.”

Some area residents take advantage of having a rink in their backyard. Jordan Brenner, who recently moved to the area, is a regular skater on the river rink.

“The attraction really is a nice feature in our local community,” Brenner said. “It really brings the area to life during the winter, which is good for businesses and patrons. Overall, I just think it is a great event.”

After nearly two hours of skating, eating, and playing games in a pop-up arcade, the BlueCross Waterfront RiverRink lived up to the hype. The attraction truly does bring its portion of Penn’s Landing to life and is a great winter activity for people of all ages.

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