Since the Independence Events Center’s grand opening on Nov. 7, the facility has had more than 15,900 skaters, with about 6,000 skaters visiting in January alone, according to facility officials. The community ice facility plans to host 12 birthday parties this coming weekend, bringing the January total to more than 40, said Chris Johnston, the rink manager.

Residents attending an Independence Events Center event on a Friday or Saturday night should take a peek inside the community ice rink.

According to Mike Young, the events center’s general manager, you can hardly see inside because of hundreds of children enjoying the rink, which is officially known as the Centerpoint Medical Center Community Ice. Events Center staff members provided an update on the ice facility during Monday night’s Independence City Council study session.

“It used to be roller skating when I was a kid,” Young said, laughing. “Now, it’s ice skating. It’s amazing to see 5- and 6-year-olds on the ice.”

Since the events center’s grand opening on Nov. 7, the facility has had more than 15,900 skaters, with about 6,000 skaters visiting in January alone, according to facility officials. The community ice facility plans to host 12 birthday parties this coming weekend, bringing the January total to more than 40, said Chris Johnston, the rink manager.

“It’s been unbelievable, and we still have a week left,” Johnston said of the January rink attendance. “Hopefully, we make it to 7,000.” 

In addition to public skate sessions and rentals, the community ice also provides learn-to-skate and hockey programs. Plans are forthcoming for a figure skating club, a youth hockey spring league, hockey camps and clinics and other programs. Young said the rink has filled a need within the Eastern Jackson County community.

“We saw a huge turnout,” Young said of the free skate session that took place on Nov. 7. “We knew from then on that every weekend it was going to be packed with kids.”

Several members of the Independence Jr. Mavs hockey team – part of the Mid America High School Hockey League – also were introduced.

District 3 Council Member Myron Paris said he and his family had planned to eat at a restaurant near the events center prior to Saturday night’s Martina McBride and Trace Adkins concert, but most of the restaurants had waiting lines extended out the door. Paris called it “a good problem to have.” 

“We knew that, well, we had hoped that it would be success ful,” At-Large Council Member Jim Schultz said, “but I think you’ve exceeded our expectations. I’m thrilled the youth of the community have the opportunity to do this.”