The holly, jolly Union Square Holiday Ice Rink opened for its 15th year Wednesday, now with orange-jacketed “Welcome Ambassadors” tasked with making tourists and families feel safer.
If you're like Mariah Carey and feel that the Christmas season begins the very minute Halloween is over, boy have we got joy for your world. The Union Square Holiday Ice Rink opened Wednesday at 5 p.m. for its 15th anniversary season, a holiday tradition that returns after COVID-19 shut it down in 2020. The rink will remain open at Union Square through January 16, 2023.
The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square is open starting today as our holiday season kicks off. To prepare for more visitors and shoppers, we are working with @SFPD and community partners to ensure our streets, transit stations, and parking garages are staffed and kept safe. pic.twitter.com/UxZEbUdUzv— London Breed (@LondonBreed) November 3, 2022
As you see above from Mayor Breed’s tweet, the rink is once again called the “Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square” because Safeway is the sponsor again. But nobody cares about all that! What you may care about is that according to KRON4, there are orange-jacketed “Welcome Ambassadors” around Union Square, intended to calm people’s crime concerns after the Union Square smash-and-grabs that grabbed headlines the weekend before Thanksgiving last year.
SF’s Welcome Ambassadors program celebrated its one-year anniversary today. Rain or shine, these hardworking individuals show up each day in their orange jackets, ready to be stewards for the community and to better the experiences for our visitors, commuters and residents alike. pic.twitter.com/BCEjJei07X— Matt Dorsey (@mattdorsey) November 2, 2022
You can see these Welcome Ambassadors above. They are not a holiday add-on, they are around all year, but the holiday season will likely see more of them in Union Square.
Is this a good investment? Possibly. KRON4 notes that at their one-year anniversary celebration, Mayor Breed told the Welcome Ambassadors “There were some conventions that were having second thoughts about whether or not they were going to come back to San Francisco, and because of you they not only came back to San Francisco, but are looking towards the future of returning to San Francisco.”
I don’t know if these friendly folks in orange jackets deter crime. But they may make people feel safer, and with tourism, perception is probably more important than reality. And given that we are knock-on-wood in a much better spot with COVID-19 than we were a year ago this time, Union Square merchants are rightly expecting a banner holiday season.
But back to the ice rink — when are the drag queens coming? Drag Queens On Ice is Thursday, December 1 an 7 p.m. ($40). There’s also a Silent Disco-style Silent Skate Party on Thursday, December 8 ($25), and weekly events include the 80s music-themed Flashback Fridays and the Frozen-themed Let It Go Wednesdays.
Or for regular skating, the Union Square Holiday Ice Rink is open 10 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every day through January 16, 2023. 60-minute sessions are $20 for adults, $15 for kids 8 and under, and that includes the skate rental. Schedules and tickets are here.
Image: @UnionSquareRink via Twitter