Ice show brings crowd to old Ridgeland Common one last time
Performers donned shades for a "Men in Black" routine at the 46th annual Ridgeland Common ice show. The show was performed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. | Natasha Wasinski~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 6:39AM
OAK PARK — Steve Manning looked around the Ridgeland Common Ice Arena Friday night as skaters in shiny, colorful costumes took to the ice.
“I just realized, this will be my last time in here the way it is,” said Manning, who came to watch his young daughter, Lily, perform in the Park District’s 46th Annual Ice Show.
“There’s a lot of memories in this place.”
The Oak Park resident skated in the ice rink more than four decades ago, when he was a kid. Now his daughter, and 300 other young skaters, got a last chance to enjoy the ice arena, too.
The Friday, Saturday and Sunday performances of the ice show, “Celebrate the Classics: Ridgeland Revue,” were the last of their kind at Ridgeland Common before renovations begin this month. The arena will reopen in the fall of 2014.
The impending closure didn’t dampen the mood at the all-ages figure skating show, which featured solo and group performances by boys and girls of all skill levels.
Glammed up in sequins and glitter, the skaters glided, jumped and sometimes stumbled to a musical mélange that ranged from Disney tunes to Adele’s Oscar-winning song “Skyfall.”
Senior skaters Emily Blim, 17, and Leah Jenks, 18, danced on the ice with youngsters from the Learn to Skate Academy.
“They’re totally hooked (to skating) after the first show,” Blim said. “You realize how special it is as you get older.”
Both Oak Park teenagers started skating a decade ago. Both of Blim’s parents ice skated, and Jenks said her mom put her into a pair of skates after tuning in to professional figure skating in the 1990s.
Since then the sport has been an integral part of both girls’ lives. Blim wakes up at 5:20 a.m. four or five days a week to skate before school. She logs eight-and-a-half to 10 hours a week skating.
Jenks practices six days a week, split between mornings and afternoons.
Their hard work has paid off. Jenks performs double flips and split jumps, and even does a move called a “death drop,” though it’s not as dangerous as it sounds.
Blim has worked on perfecting her double Salchow jump for the past two years.
“I just love jumping and going fast,” she said.
Both girls admitted ice skating brings out their competitive said, but said they most enjoy the showmanship.
Skating is a way of expression for Blim, who hopes to one day go into acting.
For Friday night’s show. she wore bright red lipstick, thick black eyelashes and — a skater’s must-have — tons of glitter.
“We get to go crazy with the glitter,” Blim said.
“It gets us in the zone,” Jenks added.
While the teenagers are ice show pros, Friday night marked the first skating event for the McCann sisters, Emily, 9, and Rachel, 7. Oak Park resident Debbie McCann said her youngest daughter in particular loved performing — and the costumes that come with it.
For her group skate number, Rachel wore a sparkly blue and purple skirt with a matching headband.
“Costumes are half the fun,” agreed Laurie Berggren, whose 8-year-old twin daughters, Angie and Jenny, also skated in the show.
Ice skating has been an activity the sisters can enjoy together despite their different abilities. Participating in the ice show has also allowed Jenny, who has Down syndrome, the chance to be independent and make new friends.
“She can (skate) without help,” said Berggren, of Oak Park. “It’s a really neat and fun event.”
Jenny’s godparents, David and Margaret Mick of Chicago, attended the twin girls’ big night.
The Micks are veteran skating spectators, having watched young relatives skate for the past 14 years.
The Ridgeland Common ice show earned their seal of approval.
“It was wonderful,” said David Mick. “I was myself surprised by how little they fell.”
Margaret Mick added the show was something all skaters could take pride in.
“It’s gives them all a chance,” she said.