Ice blue lights and wooden rocking chairs with huge flannel blankets align the cozy, winter wonderland atmosphere of Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest at Penn’s Landing.
The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation holds temporary seasonal parks at Penn’s Landing, including the summertime hammock hangout Spruce Street Harbor Park at the marina. Last year the Corporation revamped the BlueCross RiverRink and added a winter-themed component to the ice skating rink that has been around for 21 years.
This year, the winter attraction introduced a new happy hour with food and drink specials in The Lodge at Winterfest, a ski-chalet style heated tent with fireplaces, table games and comfortable cabin-like furniture.
All food at Winterfest this year is catered by the Garces Group, a well-known Pennsylvania food company. The Lodge’s happy hour features shorty fries, burgers and seasonal drafts including Shiner Holiday Cheer and “spiked” or non-alcoholic hot cider, hot chocolate and coffee.
“Last year Spruce Street Harbor Park was successful beyond our wildest dreams, so when we redid Winterfest this year, we really wanted to build off of that momentum we had gained,” Emma Fried-Cassorla, communications manager for Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, said. “We had a half-million visitors last year come to the waterfront for SSHP and we wanted them to come back again this year for Winterfest.”
Similar to last year’s “wintery element,” Fried-Cassorla said the refurbishing was intended to show people that the waterfront can be a great area to enjoy during all seasons.
“We did a real upgrade to the site,” Fried-Cassorla said. “You can come down to ice-skate again, but now a lot of people are coming down just to hang out because the sight is so beautiful and immersive.”
“When you go there you don’t really realize where you are,” she added. “It feels like this sort-of little wonderland on the waterfront. You don’t know you’re in the middle of a parking lot at Penn’s Landing next to I-95.”
The scene at Winterfest is decorated with a colorful light show that synchronizes with the music playing at the skating rink. Along with The Lodge’s huge heated tent with a wrap-around porch, Winterfest also has a taco truck and the Fireside Cafe that also provides food and alcoholic hot drinks.
“Business has been crazy,” Rodney Hariston, cashier at the Fireside, said. “Before Christmas it was packed, sold out. It’s slowed down since the beginning of the season but it has still been really busy on weekends.”
Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest will be opened until March 1. Fried-Cassorla said the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation is looking forward to continuing the success in the future.
“This is just one part of helping us move along in our master plan, getting people really excited about the waterfront again and getting them to think about what the waterfront could be like is really important for us,” she said. “That’s what these temporary seasonal parks are doing for us.”
Alexa Zizzi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org