Outside the Oreo

Lauren Piro

Several years back, British psychologist and researcher Dr. Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University developed a formula for pinpointing the most depressing day of the year. He believes that the perfect cocktail of blustery winter weather, debt from the holidays and New Year’s resolutions gone down the drain peaks at a time in January that is predictable down to the day.

This year’s melancholy day was the 21st. As the “spring” semester is no longer new, the assignments pile on and the walk from cozy bed to chilly classroom in the snow has lost its novelty, I would guess that any Villanovan’s most depressing day of the year will occur before the month ends as well, and I am certainly no exception.

Without the glow of Christmas lights to accent flurrying flakes or the scent of pumpkin-flavored … well, everything, wafting through coffee shops and malls, it takes all of my energy to yank myself out of bed each morning and slog over to Mendel Hall.

This past weekend, however, as one of the warmer days in recent memory turned into one of the coldest, I decided to embrace Jack Frost rather than pulling on my wool socks and another blanket for a marathon day of “Jon and Kate Plus 8.” Instead, I traveled to nippy Penn’s Landing to experience a Philly winter favorite I’ve been meaning to check out since I heard about it freshman year – the Blue Cross RiverRink.

Now, I am not one for the cold, nor am I the type of person who laughs confidently in the face of a frictionless surface with only a thin blade attached to the arches of my feet. In fact, my friends would guess that by the end of an afternoon skating, my nose would be better acquainted with the ice than my toes.

True or not (read: true), I’ve always enjoyed pretending I was in Kristi Yamaguchi’s spandex, flippy skirt for a few hours – even though this weekend’s get-up included two pairs of sweatpants and an ear-warming headband that hearkens back to eighth grade.

Lucky enough for me, I was able to hitch a ride to the rink with a friend on a Rosemont College-sponsored day trip. But, while this lesson on using neighboring collegiate resources is a column for another day, the RiverRink can be a fairly accessible and economical trip for any ‘Novan.

At first glance, the RiverRink seems like a great place for moms-about-town looking to tire out their rambunctious grade-schoolers. But once you glide onto the just-Zamboni’d ice – and overcome the “skate at your own risk” sign- it’s easy to see that the ice rink caters to a crowd of all ages, even those donning local university sweatshirts.

This isn’t surprising considering that not only is riverside skating fun, or at the very least something to pull the average college student out of weekend redundancy, but the RiverRink also has a partnership with one of the largest student-minded organizations in the city – Campus Philly. Mindful of tight student budgets, the rink offers those with a Campus Philly tag a two-dollar discount on any skate session.

I recently had the chance to speak with Megan Pellegrino, the editor in chief of Campus Philly and senior at Cabrini College, about her thoughts on the RiverRink.

“Personally, I love ice skating, and went there twice so far this season,” she says. “The RiverRink is really a place for college students who are looking for something different and within the college-student budget. It’s a good time – especially the nights when they have a DJ.”

It’s this sort of addition that shows how hard the rink works to make sure its patrons are enjoying their time shaving the ice. With a DJ every Friday and Saturday evening until midnight, Battle of the Bands on Sundays and theme days planned through the end of the season (take note of Valentine’s Day’s Sweetheart Skate, fellas), this is not your mother’s ice skating rink.

This past Sunday was “Tropical Paradise on Ice” day. Although the hula dancers and leis – and, oddly, “Baywatch” playing in the background – were more kiddy than anything else, I couldn’t deny that it was endearing and lighthearted, perfect for photo ops full of college memories.

Sure, it’s a bit of a hike to Penn’s Landing, the food is nothing better than anything you’d get a Little League snack bar and you may fall flat on your booty while a little girl a third your age whizzes by. But, the RiverRink beat my winter blues for an afternoon, and my bet is that it will rid you of yours as well. Get in a trip before the rink’s 15th season closes on March 1, and don’t miss out on this cold-weather icon of the city.