Great Skate Winterfest is Back at Rosa Parks Circle this Weekend

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins players, the Calder Cup, sled dogs, ice sculptors, horse-drawn carriages, winter sport athletes, museums, other community partners and local celebrities will all be part of the 2018 Great Skate Winterfest, which will run for 34 consecutive hours this Saturday, Jan. 20 and Sunday, Jan. 21 at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids.

Everyone is invited to join this celebration of winter in our city and help the Griffins Youth Foundation provide opportunities for more than 350 deserving boys and girls – many of whom are underprivileged, underserved, at-risk or have special needs – to participate in the great sport of hockey at no cost.

The fun begins at noon on Saturday with the ninth annual Winterfest, a day full of winter-inspired events, sports demonstrations and family activities, and concludes with the 15th annual Great Skate, a 24-hour skating marathon with Griffins players that runs from 10 p.m. on Saturday until 10 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to the Great Skate Winterfest is free, although donations are encouraged and nominal fees apply to skating ($3 adult, $1 kids) and certain other activities.

Highlights of the Winterfest include public ice skating; on-ice demonstrations by the Grand Rapids Sled Wings sled hockey team, the Grand Valley State University Synchronized Skating Club, the West Michigan Speedskating Club and the Greater Grand Rapids Figure Skating Club; a heated family activity tent featuring caricaturist David Wodarek, the Grand Rapids Public Library, the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, John Ball Zoo and the Brain Injury Association of Michigan; sled dogs from Shemhadar Dog Sled Adventures; ice sculptures by the Ice Gurus; and horse-drawn carriage rides by Classic Carriage. All events are subject to change and times vary. Please visit griffinshockey.com/greatskate for complete details.

The Great Skate will commence at 10 p.m. Saturday, after the Griffins’ home game against the Rockford IceHogs has wrapped up a few blocks away at Van Andel Arena. Griff and Finn, the team’s mascots, will take the event’s opening shift, and every Griffins player and coach will follow for an hour each, skating with fans and local media personalities around the clock until 10 p.m. Sunday. Sunday afternoon will also feature photos with the Calder Cup and an opportunity to drink from an ice version of the Cup from noon-6 p.m., along with a 3 p.m. ice sculpting demonstration by the Ice Gurus. The lineup of Griffins skaters can be found at griffinshockey.com/greatskate.

Through that web site, fans can help raise money for the Griffins Youth Foundation by sponsoring their favorite Griffin or collecting pledges for their own participation in the Great Skate. Attendees will also have the chance to participate in an on-site silent auction from midnight-6 p.m. that features an array of unique items, and those who choose to make a donation to provide ice time for a foundation player (10 minutes for every dollar donated) will have the opportunity to write their names on skate-themed placards that will be displayed on the walls of the Rosa Parks Circle warming shelter during the event.

The Great Skate Winterfest is presented by the Griffins, the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, Meijer and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Other sponsors include Centennial Securities, Connoisseur Design + Marketing, Executive Coach Service, FASTSigns, Gilmore and Michigan First Credit Union.

Established in 1995, the Griffins Youth Foundation promotes academic excellence, community involvement and healthy lifestyles among the youth of West Michigan, enhancing their lives through hockey and ice-related sports. The foundation’s programs currently include co-ed hockey for first through 12th graders and a girls-only division, as well as the Grand Rapids Sled Wings sled hockey team for children and teens with physical disabilities.

For more information about the foundation, visit griffinskids.org.

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