NORTH SHORE (KDKA) – The NHL Winter Classic is only a week away. On Friday, the Community Rink, set up ahead of the big game, opened up.
It’s quickly become a popular place, even on Christmas Eve.
Crews were able to construct an incredible rink in just a few short days. In the next week, roughly 12,000 people are expected to take to the ice.
A line of skaters were waiting to lace up their skates moments before the first person hit the ice.
“It’s pretty amazing. I mean, with all that weather and everything, to build a rink and to play within the Steelers’ field, it’s great. It’s going to be awesome,” Claude Boyer said.
“We’re from North Carolina, and we look forward every year to come [to Pittsburgh] and skate outside, because normally it’s about 70 degrees down in North Carolina,” Maggie O’Neill said.
On Friday, it was as good as it gets for outdoor skating conditions.
“David Morehouse and Mario [Lemieux] wanted to create an opportunity where people here in Pittsburgh could feel part of the Winter Classic,” Pittsburgh Penguins Vice President of Communications Tom McMillan said.
The first to hit the ice varied in skill. There were those who would hold on to the boards, then the kids, many of which who flew around and a few who didn’t know how to skate, but it didn’t matter.
“It’s awesome. I don’t skate much, but this is fun,” Jackson Leffler said.
For Pittsburgh, this is really the first main event for a game which has really become a New Year’s Day tradition.
“This has become a national event. In four short years, it’s become the signature NHL event and people – we have 30,000 people in from outs of town, just for this event,” McMillan said. “The idea is to get the Pittsburghers out here.”
There is a small charge to skate on the ice and they can only have a capacity of 300 people at a time. There will be lines over the next week, so be patient.