Folks were lined up outside the Forum River Center Sunday for the opening of the Forum on Ice.

A special portable skating rink and ice slide have been set up inside the arena, coupled with murals and decorated Christmas trees to create a winter wonderland inside the facility in downtown Rome.

John Scott and Sarah Husser were there with children shortly after the doors opened, ready to hit the ice. “We just learned (how to skate) last year and came pretty frequently so now we’re back this year,” he said.

Kenny and Stephanie Losch of Rockmart brought their son Zaven and daughter Braylee up for opening day. The whole family wasted no time in donning their skates for an hour or so on the ice before the kids swapped skates for an inner tube to ride down the ice slide.

The slide, a new addition this year, drops from a height of about 10 feet and sends sliders down a chute for maybe 75 feet. Kenny Losch said he suspects the family would be back several more times during the holiday season.

Young Romans Makayla and Avery Royer were also first-time visitors to the ice rink.

Avery, the younger sister, was brave enough to try navigating the ice rink without one of the push carts to help her balance. A series of three falls in a row had her grandmother, Wendy Ford, howling with laughter on the sideline. Makayla opted for the push cart until she got a better handle on her balance with skates.

Blanche Thornton Orr was among a handful of visitors who just came to watch. Orr said she used to live in New York and enjoyed watching the skaters at Rockefeller Center.

“We just wanted to see what Rome had to offer and this is beautiful. I think it’s really good for Rome,” Orr said.

The brainchild of Forum River Center marketing chief Tom Kislat, the Forum on Ice will remain open through Jan. 6 to take advantage of the entire holiday period for local schoolchildren and teachers.

Admission is $12 for a skate-and-slide combo, just $10 for skaters only and $5 for those who only want to use the slide. It’s free to watch.

Visitors receive wristbands that are good for all-day use. That means people can come early in the day, take time off to enjoy some holiday shopping or a meal downtown and then go back to the arena for more fun on the ice.

Hours are Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Check the Forum’s Facebook page for intermittent closures due to special events.

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