Bannerman Park ice trail named ‘The Loop’

Daniel MacEachern dmaceachern@thetelegram.com
Published on December 13, 2013
Kevin Nolan, who spearheaded the fundraising campaign for the Bannerman Park revitalization, and Elinor Ratcliffe, patron donor to the campaign, stroll Thursday along the concrete of The Loop, the park’s ice trail that will soon be ready for recreational skating.  — Photo by Daniel MacEachern/The Telegram

Bannerman Park wants to keep St. John’s in The Loop. The park foundation Thursday announced the name of the ice trail at Bannerman Park, 270 metres of refrigerated concrete that the foundation says will be open soon. Naming rights for the trail were given to Elinor Gill Ratcliffe, patron donor to the fundraising campaign for the Bannerman Park revitalization. She said she wanted an easy name for the children she hopes will flock to the trail to say.

Ratcliffe said when she was given naming rights to the facility, she asked the Bannerman Park Foundation for a list of suggestions. “I put it back to them. I said, why don’t you give me a list of suggestions, and let me pick? I knew that I wasn’t going to call it after an individual or a company, but … something that you see kids picking up their skates and saying, ‘Goodbye, Mom! I’m going to the …’” One of those suggestions — on a list that included “Skateland” and “Mobius” — was “The Loop,” said Ratcliffe, which “won the day.”

Ratcliffe said she didn’t want to name the ice trail after a person because it belongs to everybody. “To put a name on it somehow detracts from that,” she said.”

At a short news conference Thursday morning to announce the name, St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said The Loop is a good choice. “If you come up with a long name, inevitably it’s going to be shortened to something. ‘Going to The Loop’ I’m sure will be echoed across the city for a long, long time to come,” he said, praising all the donors — many of which were listed by chief fundraiser Kevin Nolan — for their support of the project.

“It’s an example of what we can do when we work together, what we can do when we form partnerships that are based on having a terrific love and regard for this city, in particular for recreation and our parks.”

The 270 metres of The Loop are the result of a continuous concrete pour for 36 hours. An inch and a half under the surface is 16 kilometres of tubing in the refrigeration system that will form the artifical ice. Gord Tucker, the city’s manager of property management, said the refrigeration system could theoretically allow ice in weather up to 10 C. There will be seats and benches along the trail where people can put on their skates or rest, and the replica old-fashioned replica lampposts have speakers to play music.

A spokeswoman for the foundation said the City of St. John’s will announce when the Loop is open to the public, which she said will be soon.