Hundreds of skaters take to St. Pete Times Forum ice during Tampa Bay Lightning's free public skate

More than 100 ice skaters, family members and friends showed up for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s free public skate Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

More than 100 ice skaters, family members and friends showed up for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s free public skate Sunday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

TAMPA — Ryan MacDonald is 2.

And as his mother puts it, he has no choice but to learn how to ice-skate.

"His father's from Canada," Angela MacDonald said, watching her son's first time gliding over frozen water.

With some help from his dad, John, Ryan made his way around the rink at the St. Pete Times Forum on Sunday afternoon with a few hundred other skaters. They showed up for a free public skate hosted by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The arena surrounding them, hockey fans and figure skaters took to the ice for the chance to skate where their idols do. Former Lightning players Dave Andreychuk and Brian Bradley also were at the rink, taking photos with fans and signing autographs.

"It's, like, so exciting to be here where we see people perform," said Melissa Valletti, 14, of Palm Harbor. "I come to Stars on Ice every year. It's really cool to be on the ice and look up."

Wearing matching lightning rod earrings and a necklace, Tampa resident Tina Surrency-Sciocia brought her two children for some fun. She loves the Lightning so much, she and her husband got married at the arena last year.

Pictures on her iPhone show her in a white dress and veil on the ice with the flower girls clad in Lightning blue dresses.

"When we're not here for games, we're watching them on TV," Surrency-Sciocia said, lacing up a hockey skate. "So it's nice to come and experience the ice from the players' perspective.

"You get a different feel for the game."

As he finished his first lap, John MacDonald let his son take a rest against the wall where his mother and older sister, Briana, stood. Ryan plopped a diapered bottom down on the ice just before deciding to sample a few shavings. Tiny twin-bladed strap-on skates — a special online order — were tied to his sneakers.

"It's great that they do this," Angela MacDonald said. "But I think Ryan's more interested in eating the ice."

Chandra Broadwater can be reached at cbroadwater@sptimes.com, or (813) 661-2454.

Hundreds of skaters take to St. Pete Times Forum ice during Tampa Bay Lightning's free public skate 07/12/09 [Last modified: Monday, July 13, 2009 1:30am]

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