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Downtown ice rink opens near Occupy Tampa protest

TAMPA — Mayor Bob Buckhorn showed up Thursday at Curtis Hixon Park to kick off a second year of ice skating.

His audience included a handful of downtown's most ubiquitous residents: Occupy Tampa protesters.

As Buckhorn skated around the rink with Tampa Bay Lightning cheerleaders, several rink-side protesters silently held signs that said "Banks out of Politics," "Buckhorn, Give the People a Park" and "Occupy Buckhorn."

"He didn't tell us he was coming," said a barefoot Faith Kisacky, a University of South Florida senior.

She hurried over with a "When do we declare war on economic terrorism?" sign when she saw Buckhorn and a small crowd that included television cameras.

Buckhorn, for his part, ignored the signs and stuck to his ice skating agenda.

The 40- by 100-foot ice skating rink, sponsored by Friends of Tampa Recreation, was a big hit last year, attracting 23,000 people. Admission is $10 for 90 minutes, which includes skate rental.

In brief remarks before he hit the ice, Buckhorn said the ice rink was another cool attraction for downtown. He vowed that all of the downtown events would help make him the "hippest" mayor around.

"I'm even listening to Ludacris," he said.

Protesters said they would be back — probably with $10.

"We're going ice skating," said Nicholas Windholz, 26. "We'll probably do it for one night at least."

Windholz said he doesn't think the protesters' nearby presence will affect the number of visitors to the ice rink. Many of the parents who attended Thursday's opening agreed.

"Why should I be worried?" said Rosalinde Norman Elliott, a board member of Friends of Tampa Recreation, who brought her two sons to skate. "They're occupying their space."

Reach Jodie Tillman at jtillman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3374.

Jeffrey Fishman, left, of Tampa skates with daughter Abbi, 6, during Thursday’s grand opening of the 2011 season of Tampa’s Downtown on Ice, the temporary ice skating rink set up at Curtis Hixon Park. Fishman was there with his wife, Brandy, Abbi’s twin, Noah, and son Jacob, 9. “It’s a great amenity for the city to have,” he said.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Jeffrey Fishman, left, of Tampa skates with daughter Abbi, 6, during Thursday’s grand opening of the 2011 season of Tampa’s Downtown on Ice, the temporary ice skating rink set up at Curtis Hixon Park. Fishman was there with his wife, Brandy, Abbi’s twin, Noah, and son Jacob, 9. “It’s a great amenity for the city to have,” he said.

>>Fast facts

If you go

Each 90-minute session at Curtis Hixon Park costs $10 and includes skate rental. The rink remains open through Jan. 1. Hours are 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday and 4 to 9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday.

Downtown ice rink opens near Occupy Tampa protest 11/10/11 [Last modified: Thursday, November 10, 2011 9:47pm]
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