Despite having to scale back original plans due to the pandemic, the Ohio Union Activities Board and the Office of Student Life will bring ice skating to the Ohio Union West Plaza for their Winter Wonderland event Sunday.
The event , which will take place from noon to 8 p.m., is part of a new, spring Welcome Back Week and will serve as a way to welcome transfer and international students for the semester, Casey Petrae, a third-year in finance and a member of OUAB, said. Petrae said events like Winter Wonderland are intended to bolster student interest in campus events, like the week’s fall semester equivalent.
“We want to be able to provide an environment that students can get excited to return to campus and jump back into involvement on campus and within Student Life,” Petrae said in an email.
Due to new university guidelines and the surge of the omicron variant, the Winter Wonderland event had to adapt to ensure compliance with safety protocols.
The Winter Wonderland was originally set to include activities and performances such as a photo booth and a jazz band, but will now strictly offer ice skating at the West Plaza south of the Oval. Although ice skating tickets are currently sold out, there will be a stand-by line for students without tickets. Grab-and-go hot chocolate kits and DIY candles and snowglobes will also be available at the Union, Petrae said.
“We wanted to program an event that allowed students to enjoy something you can only do during a specific time of year while also getting excited for returning to campus,” Petrae said.
There will also be a remote showing of “The Polar Express” all day Sunday, which is free for students through the Flicks for Free program , Petrae said.
Krystal Vielman, assistant director for OUAB, said the organization’s main goal is to ensure the Winter Wonderland operates safely.
“With COVID-19 cases rising, we had to step back a little and implement initiatives like cutting capacity,” Vielman said.
Vielman said although catering and other in-person activities were cut from the program, students can now safely gather together outside on the ice rink.
“This is nothing new for the Ohio Union Activities Board,” Vielman said. “It was challenging because it wasn’t fully the event that we wanted to see. It’s definitely a change.”
Petrae said in order to maintain a safe environment, OUAB decreased the ice rink capacity to 50 percent.
“We understand that students are still on campus and classes are in person,” Petrae said. “We are trying to reevaluate ways students can attend these programs and have in-person aspects of student life experience.”
Vielman said although an event unhindered by COVID-19 would have been ideal, she knew accommodations would have to be made and may continue for some time.
“There was this hope that everything would go back to this sense of quote-unquote ‘normalcy,’ but understanding that is not where we are or where we will be in a while,” Vielman said. “Things are always going to look a little different.”
Students can sign up to pick up DIY kits and crafts through OUAB’s sign-up sheet .