For one day only, the Columbia City Hall parking lot will serve as an ice skating rink.
The event, aptly titled Monroe County on Ice, is being hosted by this year’s Monroe County startUP program as its large class business. The event will kick off at 9 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 20 and go until 10 p.m.
In addition to skating, patrons can enjoy bonfires, s’mores kits, face painting, giveaways, vendors and more.
Elizabeth Bowler, a senior at Columbia High School, is the event’s chief executive officer. Bowler said her classmate came up with the idea.
“Jolie Hilgedieck, our (chief operating officer), actually brought up the idea because she’s an ice skater and she thought this would be a great way to bring the community together,” Bowler said.
At first, the complexities of the event made it seem impossible, as it was unlike any other sporting event previous classes had hosted. However, this year’s startUP class found that where there’s a will, there’s a way.
“When we first started thinking about our large class business, we thought that it would be kind of out of reach because of how challenging it would be and how different this event is,” Bowler said. “But, after doing some research, we kind of realized this would be attainable through hard work and determination and we wanted to go for it.”
The team came across Anytime Ice Skating, an Indiana-based company that provides portable synthetic ice skating rinks. The surface is made of “high-tech” plastic that mirrors the conditions of ice, allowing users to don traditional ice skates and glide across it just like they would ice.
“We could even do this ice skating event in the summer if we wanted to because there is no temperature limit on it,” Bowler said. “We wanted to go with the synthetic because it would be a little bit cheaper alternative and it would just be easier to work with. We wanted to do it in February just to kind of keep the winter theme and aesthetic.”
Participants may use their own skates or rent them at no added cost. Bowler recommends individuals pre-register, as reserving tickets ahead of time will cost less than paying at the gate.
She said tickets are $15 when bought online by clicking here and will be $20 for adults and $15 for kids if purchased at the event.
Additionally, the group will soon release information about a family bundle, which will include free s’mores.
Bowler said the event is student-led.
“Our facilitator, Jamie Matthews, is kind of there to help guide us through this instead of telling us exactly what to do,” Bowler said. “She actually does a really great job of helping us walk through this, but also helps us by kind of stepping back and letting us go through the trial and error of what works and what doesn’t.”
The class had split responsibilities into three different committees: logistics, finance and marketing.
“We actually took some personality tests at the beginning of the year, so that was kind of a little guide for us to be able to put each person in a different committee that will kind of bring out their strengths,” Bowler said.
Bowler said the class, which consists of students from Monroe County high schools, adequately prepared her to spearhead the event. Throughout the year, startUP students tour businesses, learn tips from local business owners and insurance agents and improve their money management, communication and networking skills.
Bowler said the latter specifically came in handy not only when planning the event, but when working on her personal project as well.
“We’ve been able to reach back out to (the businesses that spoke to the class) and see if they want to sponsor our event,” Bowler said. “We’re actually going to be working on our personal businesses after this, so all the different businesses that we’ve been in communication with are usually more than happy to kind of help us through our business, and we’ve had multiple conversations with people who are kind of willing to spend some more time helping guide us through this and everything.”