In March of 2020, the formerly named Ice Station Valencia announced it would close its doors permanently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost six months after it was closed, the Santa Clarita City Council approved bond funding to purchase the ice rink and in April, the newly renovated facility reopened with a different name, The Cube.
Jennifer Rapkine, a Santa Clarita resident whose daughter has been practicing at the ice rink for six years, said they would have to commute to a Simi Valley ice rink six times a week while it was closed.
“This place is a second home for us,” Rapkine said. “When it was closed for a year… it felt like a big part of our home was missing.”
As Los Angeles Kings radio play-by-play announcer Nick Nickson said, the long wait is over and royalty reigns again in Santa Clarita as The Cube began a new holiday tradition with its inaugural Christmas Tree Skate and Tree Lighting ceremony.
The event featured an autograph signing from Nickson and guest appearances from the Kings mascot, Bailey, and dancers from the L.A. Kings Ice Crew.
Nickson said although the pandemic is not over yet, it is encouraging to see many enthusiastic families attend the ceremony at The Cube after it was closed for than a year.
“It’s good to see people have the ability to go out and stay active especially in a place like this, where you can work out your aggressions and all of your frustrations through figure skating or playing hockey in three-on-three adult leagues and youth leagues,” Nickson said. “When you come to an event like this, it feels like we’re back to normal.”
Children and adults alike flocked to take photos with the Kings announcer and mascot. Rapkine said it meant the world to the Santa Clarita ice sports community for prominent figures from the Kings to make an appearance at the event.
“It brings so much excitement because the Kings are such a big part of Los Angeles,” Rapkine said. “Getting to be a part of that and seeing yourself with those people is something to aspire to for so many.”
Nickson said it is truly an honor to represent the Kings at the first tree lighting event at the new facility and serve as an inspiration for the youth hockey community in Santa Clarita.
“I’ve met so many different people from all walks of life,” Nickson said. “Some that are my age remember when I first came out and now their sons and daughters and their granddaughters and grandsons are listening and watching Kings hockey, so it’s been very rewarding for me.”
Santa Clarita Mayor Bill Miranda kicked off the festivities with a speech summarizing the city’s challenges to reopen and restore the facility.
“The top priority when the city first acquired the facility was to ensure that it remained a place that met the needs of all the users,” Miranda said. “As of April this year, the Cube has done just that.”
After Miranda spoke to the crowd, he invited everyone to join in counting down the lighting of the gigantic Christmas tree decorated in blue lights and fake snow.
Once the speeches were over, hundreds of guests began skating in the larger Olympic rink conjoined to the smaller skating area, called the Pond, with the decorated Christmas tree.
According to Miranda, guests will be allowed to skate around the Christmas tree during each public skate session at The Cube from now until Christmas Eve.