Max Tishler and his mother Nancy Tishler went downtown Friday afternoon to meet with her sister.
When they didn't find her, they stopped at the tent at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to inquire when Tampa's Downtown on Ice was opening. Lucky for them, it just had.
Ten-year-old Max rented ice skates and immediately started cruising on the ice.
"It's fun," said Max, who used to skate at school in New Hampshire. "It reminds me of the Hunter School."
This is the third year of outdoor ice skating in downtown Tampa and Max and his mom haven't missed one.
Nancy Tishler, who didn't ice skate on Friday, said she enjoys skating and the location.
"I like to take off and feel that energy," she said, adding that she learned to ice skate growing up in Indiana. "It's exhilarating. It's a high."
Last year, more than 22,000 ice skaters cruised around the ice rink, which is about 50 –by-100 feet. A regulation hockey rink is 85-by-200 feet.
The rink is opened to the public from now until Jan. 5. It is only closed on Thanksgiving Day. The cost is $10 per person and it includes rental skates and 90 minutes of skate time. For more information, go online to www.tampasdowntownonice.com.
City officials hope the interest and momentum continues and helps to serve as a catalyst to spur excitement in downtown Tampa.
"It's one more activity that we've created to bring people downtown," said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. "There's an electricity in downtown that hasn't been here in a long time."
Buckhorn attended the opening ceremony Friday afternoon and participated in the inaugural skate. Buckhorn, who doesn't skate, borrowed shoes worn by ThunderBug, the Tampa Bay Lightning mascot. He skated on the ice with members of the Lightning Girls.
"Part of it is creating a buzz in downtown and making it a destination," Buckhorn said.
Cameron Miller was wearing a black Tampa Bay Lightning hoodie and blue winter gloves. He was skating around the rink and doing well considering he had little practice. His only ice time has been at Tampa's Downtown on Ice.
"I like that you get to skate and have fun," said Cameron, 10, of Carrollwood.
He prefers ice skating to roller skating, he said.
"It's on ice and it reminds me of up north," said Miller, who used to live in Connecticut but learned to skate in Tampa.
His mother, Michelle Miller, said she enjoys coming downtown with her son.
They spend time at the park, the library and restaurants. Last week, they saw the advertisement at the park that the ice skating was opening on Friday. They made it a point to attend, she said.
"I love it," Michelle Miller said. "It just has a nice feel for the holidays."