Jill Biden brings a holiday ice rink to the White House for children to skate and play hockey

Nov 29, 2023, 3:15 PM

FILE - President Jimmy Carter calls for other performers to join himself, Santa Claus and ice skati...

FILE - President Jimmy Carter calls for other performers to join himself, Santa Claus and ice skating star Peggy Fleming for pictures at a White House reception for U.S. Secret Service agents and military aides in Washington, Dec. 22, 1980. Jill Biden is bringing a holiday ice rink to the White House lawn for children to skate and play hockey during the holidays. The first lady was set to announce the rink after sunset on Wednesday. She was to be joined by 1988 Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano and the Snoopy character, among others. The White House says the rink will operate during December. (AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

(AP Photo/Dennis Cook, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jill Biden is extending her holiday theme of “Magic, Wonder and Joy” to the White House grounds by putting an ice rink on the South Lawn for children to skate and play hockey in December.

The first lady opened the ice rink Wednesday evening in the company of Brian Boitano, who won a gold medal in figure skating in the 1988 Olympics, and the comic-strip dog Snoopy, among others. Earlier this week, she unveiled decorations inside the executive mansion that she said were designed to help visitors experience the “magic, wonder and joy” of the holidays as they did when they were kids.

The 50-by-70-foot (15.2-by-21.3-meter) rink will operate throughout December, but the White House did not specify days and hours. Washington, D.C.-area schoolchildren and children from families with service members, frontline workers, first responders and teachers will be invited to skate.

The National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association will provide lessons through their “Learn to Play/Learn to Skate” program, which provides first-time participants with free head-to-toe equipment, weekly sessions and coaching.

This is not the first ice rink on the White House grounds.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter, who was buried Wednesday in her hometown of Plains, Georgia, had an ice rink built on the South Lawn for Olympian Peggy Fleming to perform during White House Christmas receptions.

Other supporters of the new rink include the National Park Service, the National Park Foundation and Comcast Spectacor.

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Jill Biden brings a holiday ice rink to the White House for children to skate and play hockey