The Alberni Valley Multiplex will be transformed from an all-purpose hockey arena to a colourful fairytale forest on Feb. 24.
The Mount Arrowsmith Skating Club biennial show on ice returns this year and all of the club’s skaters have been preparing for the Carnival production. In addition to the regular evening presentation of The Enchanted Forest, School District 70 students will have a special opportunity to see local skaters in action. For the third year, the club has invited the schools to see the show, which will include some surprise extras for the audience.
The mainly volunteer-run initiative is being led by Ron Doetzel, who has reentered the multiplex as a dedicated volunteer after retiring from his long-time position with City of Port Alberni’s parks and recreation department.
“We started this six years ago as a good way to expose the ice show to a lot more kids,” Doetzel said. “Some of them would never have the chance to see it otherwise.”
Upwards of 1,400 students from the district elementary schools, plus Haahuupayak Elementary, John Paul II Catholic School, and école des Grands-cèdres will be filling the seats to see the senior skaters perform roles such as fairies, pixies, and Disney characters.
“Port Alberni is very lucky,” said Jean Leshures, club coach and director of skating. “I travel all over the Island for competitions and shows and we have one of the nicest facilities on the Island. It is wonderful to give so many kids the chance to see it who might not even be aware of our skating program.”
The students will be bused to the arena for a show in the morning. It will be a condensed performance with only the older skaters so the preschoolers and other younger members will be ready for the evening performance. Additional entertainment is being provided, including the appearance of a gorilla on ice, a magician, and other surprises.
The evening show, open to the public, runs for about two hours with back-to-back performances. About 65 skaters, ranging in age from three to 30, are taking part, as well as the traditional guest skater. This year, the high-level competitor, Mitchell Gordon, will make an appearance. The 2016 senior bronze medal national champion trains in Burnaby and is coached by Joanne McLeod, who is renowned for turning out Olympic athletes. “It is very enjoyable to watch him skate,” Leshures said. “He jumps big, skates fast and does things these kids probably only see on TV.”
The doors open for the public show at 6 p.m. and skaters take to the ice at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at Echo Centre.