Augusta on Ice will be at the Augusta Common for 50 days, bringing with it an all-inclusive winter wonderland. The best part is, you’ll be able to skate on 100 percent, absolutely real ice!
Anyone who knows the climate in Augusta probably has their doubts, but it is possible.
The mind behind Augusta on Ice, Chris Boerner, explained:
“It is real ice,” she said. “That’s the thing everybody keeps asking — it is real ice. So what it is, is you bring these mats in that are really thick, and you have tubes running through them, and you pump glycol through the tubes. There’s almost like an air conditioner like the one in your house, but it’s a much larger one that’s gonna be keeping the glycol cold. And so, we’ll freeze the ice over the course of days. And every day, we’ll scrape off the part that gets a little bit slushy and then refreeze it and build it up.”
Chris and her family moved to Augusta a little over a year ago from Seattle and are loving it. Her in-laws came here to retire a few years back, and after visiting, Chris and her husband, Mike, made the move. She was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug — she also runs a company called Cielo Pill Holders — and when they moved to Augusta, they wanted to find a way to make a difference in the community.
“We were looking a couple of different business options,” she said. “Actually, we were close to signing a lease on something totally different last December when we had friends over. It was probably close to the holidays, and they told us they were going to take their kids to Savannah to go ice skating. Mike and I just looked at each other and went, ‘Oh man, what are the chances?’ because we have a friend in Northern California — he and his wife run holiday ice skating rinks. And for years, Mike has been fascinated by the business, and we thought, ‘What a cool thing.’
“In Seattle, there’s plenty of ice skating, plenty of holiday festivals, lots to do, so it wasn’t really relevant. So as our friends told us there was nothing here like it, we were looking at each other going, ‘Could this be the way that we could get involved; could we do this?’ So it started out just as an ice skating rink, but the idea was always to give people a place to come together, to create memories, to build traditions, and so that took it from being anchored by an ice skating rink into really a festival that keeps people coming back over and over.”
While the ice skating rink is the main feature, there will be plenty of other things to draw people downtown over and over again, as Augusta on Ice will offer season passes.
Augusta on Ice will feature a beautifully decorated ice slide — again, with real ice, kept cold like the ice rink is. The Augusta Express, a train much like the Polar Express, will be taking people on rides throughout the Common. Adults can visit The Elves Lounge for beer and wine. And the Community Spotlight Stage will feature different acts and live music every single day — and when there’s no live entertainment, Augusta on Ice will screen holiday films on the stage. Oh, and s’mores and hot chocolate will be available to warm up and hit your sweet tooth at the same time.
And don’t miss Santa! He will be there for photo sessions — visitors will be able to book a time with him online so they’re not waiting in line to meet him.
Throughout it all, the park will be decked out in some of the best holiday decorations.
“The Augusta Common is lined with oak trees and just has sort of an intimate vibe to it already, but the lighting concept we’re bringing is magical,” Chris Boerner said. “So when you’re in the middle of that field, you’ll feel like you’re inside of a snow globe. All of the trees will be lit, and it’ll be choreographed to music; there’ll be snowflakes projected onto the buildings off to the side, and it’s just gonna be magic everywhere.”
General admission to the park is $5 for one day and $20 for the whole season. That gets you in the gates for access to entertainment, the tree lighting, watching skaters and more. (To add ice skating, it’s $14; the ice slide is an extra $4, and a ride on the Augusta Express is $4.)
But the best deal to maximize your holiday spirit is the activity pass. It’s $20 for one day or $50 for the entire season, and it includes completely unlimited access to the ice rink, ice slide, Augusta Express and everything else the park offers. Families of four or more can get 10% off, and groups of 10 or more can get 25% off, no matter what ticket they go with. Military and seniors can take advantage of a discount of 25%.
The Augusta on Ice season will run daily (including holidays) from Nov. 17 to Jan. 6. Check out augustaonice.com for hours and other information — and to order your passes!