With a handful of Emmy Awards for its locally-lensed HBO series “Mare of Eastown,” Delaware County – ‘Delco’ to the locals – has had much to crow about lately. Now, add to that esteem a major, magical regional winter attraction: a Christmas-themed rink by Flight on Ice located at 4901 West Chester Pike in Newtown Square.
Starring a 60-foot by 100-foot full sized outdoor ice skating rink as its sporting centerpiece (you can rent your skates there, so there’s no excuse), the Energy Transfer Veterans Memorial Rink is surrounded by culinary delights and liquor cabinet treats as an immediate part of its experience in a heated hospitality tent.
Along with being able to skate, dine and drink, there are special events and holiday programming for Christmas week, winter break, New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day week. (Check here for times and schedules: www.flightonice.com). Energy Transfer Veterans Memorial Rink by Flight on Ice will remain open through February 2022.
And while four Philadelphia region business partners are at the heart of putting the site together, Colby Cohen, a one-time NHL and AHL hockey player, acts as the rink’s spiritual overseer as well as its co-owner. Cohen, formerly of the Colorado Avalanche and the Providence Bruins, is currently employed by NBC Sports Chicago to cover Chicago Blackhawks as a studio analyst.
For those unaware of Cohen’s local connection, he is Villanova-born and grew up at the Ice Line skating club, hitting the blades with his dad.
“My dad tried every winter to build a rink on our property and we never had enough consecutive cold days… we might get three, four days at our house or on the pond at the Willows in Radnor… but they were the best days and nights,” says Cohen. “My dad would let us skip school and stay up all night and use it — he had huge flood lights installed and the neighbors would call the cops and complain.”
For Cohen, the joy of skating outdoors extends to seeing kids and families have the opportunity to ice skate seven days a week. “The smiles on people’s faces when they skate are priceless, especially with everything going on in today’s world.”
Pre-pandemic, Cohen and the local Flight on Ice team held a pop-up rink at Renault Winery’s Vintner Wonderland, a huge success which prompted them to keep its large footprint and build multiple rinks, so people could experience outdoor skating without driving into downtown Philly.
“I drove by the place where we built the rink in Delco thousands of times in my life heading to Ice Line for hockey practice as a kid, and have known the De Botton family since I was in pre-school,” says Cohen of the rink’s co-owners and partners. “Working with Paul and the Veterans Memorial on this project was very important because he shares the same goals as us, bringing the community together for a great cause along with family fun and entertainment.”
Other than a slick surface and a working Zamboni, Cohen says a dynamic ice rink should have great music, great entertainment and great family options for skating and even just hanging out and watching your friends and family skate. “My business partner Jon Schaffer is an expert at curating musical and entertainment performances to go along with ice skating. Oh yeah — hot chocolate is a must too. Especially the amazing peppermint cocoa we have from DiFabio’s Events.”
And lest you think that Colby Cohen is a partner in name only and that he’ll oversee Energy Transfer Veterans Memorial Rink from Chicago, think again. “I am back in this area every couple of weeks,” he says. “Basically anytime I have more than one day between games I try to get back to be able to interact with all of our guests, friends and family who come out to spend time at the rink.”