New Chico ice rink stokes smiles, but also controversy amid Paradise rink reopening


Visitors ice skating at the grand opening of the Chico Ice Rink in the Plaza. Photo taken by Ava Norgrove on Nov. 19

The Chico Ice Rink In The Plaza opened its doors to hundreds of skaters on Nov. 19, but the use of city resources to fund a second rink in Butte County has created controversy.

Some Chico Citizens took to social media and attended City Council meetings to express concern about the cost of running the rink during a housing and climate crisis. The ice rink’s website states that the rink will use approximately 400 kilowatts per day, or 10-15 households worth of energy each day. 

Some were also concerned the rink would take away business from the ice rink in Paradise.

Despite backlash, hundreds appeared for the Chico Ice Rink’s opening weekend.

Mason Penstein, manager of the Chico Ice Rink, worked opening night.

“For this opening weekend, we’re expecting to be running out of skates and nearly reaching capacity every night,” Penstein said. “Tonight [Nov. 19] was incredibly busy. I expect it to continue being busy.”

Chico Ice Rink worker Elise Donnell said she has seen a consistent flow of patrons since opening weekend. She expects business to remain steady.

Just up the ridge, the Paradise Ice Rink opened its doors for its seventh year since 2013 and its forced closure in 2020 due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

A photo of the Paradise Ice Rink
The Paradise Ice Rink, located at 6626 Skyway, Paradise Ca. Photo taken by Alex Martin Nov. 19

Ticket prices at the Paradise Ice Rink were discounted during Thanksgiving week, Nov. 23-24, courtesy of local businesses who sponsored skate days.

Lorrennis Leeds, administrative assistant and Paradise Ice Rink manager, said normal daily admission ticket prices are $12 per person, the same as the Chico Ice Rink, but sponsored skate days prices can lower prices by half with a reservation. 

The Paradise Ice Rink has different hours of operation than Chico including special events and early morning adult-only skating times and will be open from Nov. 11 to Jan. 17 this season.

“The fun events we just got through were a chili cookoff and a cornhole tournament,” Leeds said. “Our next one coming up is Nov. 27 and it is a free skate day.”

Leeds emphasized the importance of keeping everyone safe.

“I have COVID measures in place,” Leeds said. “The staff have the option to wear their masks if they want to. Masks are provided, sanitizer and gloves are provided, and we do try to keep social distancing, hence the spacing of tables and stuff like that.”

Anyone interested in ice skating in Butte County this holiday season can check out the Chico Ice Rink and Paradise Ice Rink websites for more information and hours of operation.

Alex Martin and Ava Norgrove can be reached at [email protected] or @alexmartinjour or @Ava10361203 on Twitter.