The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink is a combined effort by Bay Area merchants and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department to enhance the downtown San Francisco experience for holiday shoppers.
"Union Square is already a mecca for shopping," Holiday Ice Rink spokeswoman Molly Blaisdell said. "This just takes it to the next level." This is this the first time in 12 years a rink has been set up in the square, Blaisdell said.
The rink, whose proceeds will benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, was installed in 24 hours by freezing a layer of brine and a layer of ice over a patchwork of aluminum plates, ice rink engineer Brian Clavano said.
The rink is monitored by engineers who can raise or lower the rink's core temperature depending on how hot it gets outside, Clavano said.
To smooth out the ice between sessions, rink operators will use a Zamboni that looks like a miniature Safeway delivery truck.
"I can't believe they do all this in a day," said Braja Kishori, an ice skater from Moldova who came out early to break in the ice. "It's a miracle."
The rink will be open until Jan 4. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission for adults is $8 and $4 for children.