‘Tis the season to see all ages take to the ice during holiday skating shows

At Clearwater Ice Arena’s “A Winter Recital” skating show recently, 6-year-old Logan kept jumping up to see what was happening on the ice.

April Leighty with her two sons, Ian, 4, (in front), and Logan, 6.

April Leighty with Ian, 4, in front, and Logan, 6.

“Mom, I want to see the show!” Logan exclaimed. “I can’t see the show!”

It’s the first figure skating holiday recital at the new ice rink in Largo, and Logan isn’t tall enough to see over the boards.

His mom, April Leighty, who will later perform in the show with Logan’s brother, Ian, 4, scanned the area looking for a spot for Logan to watch. She settled for the penalty box reserved for certain hockey players whenever a game is played.

“He likes to watch the show, but he doesn’t like to be in it,” said Leighty, whose family enjoys “family skate” at the rink on Saturdays.

On this day, however, about 60 figure skaters did want to participate in the Dec. 11 show, the first holiday skating show at the brand new facility on ICOT Boulevard, which also serves as home rink for the University of Tampa’s hockey team.

The Clearwater Ice Arena (CIA) underwent a $5 million expansion that added a fitness center, new locker rooms, four party rooms, an off-ice training room with synthetic ice for hockey shooting practice, and a second larger rink. The grand opening was in August.

The new rink, which meets National Hockey League requirements, is used for competitive hockey, figure skating, and community recreational skating.

The four children performers, above, from Busch Gardens' Christmas on Ice! show skated in TBSA Countryside's winter recital.

The four children skaters, above in red, from Busch Gardens’ Christmas on Ice! show skated in TBSA Countryside’s winter recital earlier this month.

CIA’s sister rinks, the Tampa Bay Skating Academy (TBSA) in Countryside Mall, and TBSA in Oldsmar, also got in on the holiday skating fun.

On Dec. 9, 10 and 17, the TBSA Countryside rink presented a Countryside Teams holiday show, and on Dec. 17 also had a Learn-to-Skate classes winter recital. Skaters from Busch Gardens’ Christmas on Ice! show also joined in on the festive celebration. Children skaters Lilianna Murray, Logan Carter, Isabella Conroy and Sakura Gardner performed along with soloist Kyle James and the pair team of Colleen Maguire and Josiah Modes.

The Oldsmar rink showcased its recital on Dec. 17 and 18. About 150 skaters participated in all of the TBSA shows.

At left, Joan Van Middlesworth, 85, and her husband, James, 87.

Joan Van Middlesworth, 85, and her husband, James, 87.

At CIA’s performance, there was a wide range of figure skaters, from tiny tots to older adults. Included in that last category was 85-year-old Joan Van Middlesworth, who demonstrated her skating talent for the audience, including her husband, James, 87. It was also her first holiday recital.

“It’s a miracle of miracles,” Joan said, excited about her husband’s attendance.

James smiled when asked how he enjoyed seeing his wife do her dance number on the ice, complete with top hat and (candy) cane. “It was great,” he said.

Joan began taking lessons about eight years ago, shortly after her granddaughter, Emily Lowry, 15, began figure skating.

At right, Emily, 15, skating with Taylor, 16, to the song, "Hot Chocolate," from The Polar Express.

At right, Emily, 15, skating with Taylor, 16, to the song, “Hot Chocolate,” from The Polar Express.

Joan, who many would agree is one gutsy grandma, had always wanted to learn to skate; it took her granddaughter to give her that push to step out on the ice.

Emily also performed in the show, in a solo and in a duet with her friend, Taylor Lannon.

The two are members of the Clearwater synchronized skating group, Team Sunfire, which concluded the holiday recital show with its short program.

Logan with a clear view of his mom and brother on the ice.

Logan with a clear view of his mom and brother on the ice.

When it was time for Logan’s mom to skate with 4-year-old Ian, Logan watched from his perfect spot, with nothing blocking his view. And with the new ice rink at CIA, he and others can expect more skating fun and celebration in the coming new year.


To view more pictures of CIA’s winter recital and TBSA’s holiday shows click on the links below. Photos of CIA’s event were taken by Elaine Mann. TBSA photos were taken by Chris Reichert with Memory In Print.

CIA’s Winter Recital

TBSA’s Holiday Shows