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Canal Park offers new spin on ice skating (Video)

Wednesday - 12/26/2012, 10:17am  ET

Canal_Park.jpg
Canal Park on M Street has the feel of skating on a canal, says Manager Mike Lucas. (WTOP/Kate Ryan)

WASHINGTON - Maybe the kids are getting restless. Maybe the house feels a bit crowded with visiting relatives. Whatever the reason, those itching to get some time out of the house over the holidays need something that can interest everyone from the littlest to aunts and uncles.

Canal Park may be that place.

The new skating rink on M Street Southeast isn't a typical oval shape. Instead of going around in circles, the twisting frozen path has the feel of skating on a canal, says Manager Mike Lucas. The park opened in mid-November and has already caught on among tourists and locals alike.

On Christmas day, Santa joined in the fun, gliding along, and bending down to assist little skaters when needed.

"From little kids all the way up to older people. It's fun to watch people enjoy themselves doing something that's so healthy and that's such a great recreational sport," said Lucas as he roved off the ice, watching skaters.

When the park opened little more than a month ago, not all of the newly hired staffers could skate.

"Probably 30 per cent of the people that we hired could skate before, and now 95 per cent of our staff can skate and skate well...and they're enjoying it," says Lucas.

Staffer Howard Phifer is one of those skating newbies. A resident of the Southeast neighborhood that is home to Canal Park, Phifer graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 2010. He played baskeball and football in high school, and isn't afraid of getting a little banged up on the field. But Phifer admits to being nervous about taking up skating.

"I was terrified at first," he says, but then he came up with a formula for learning to skate.

"I had a technique: Walk, 1,2,3 then glide. And it worked!"

But as a manager, he doesn't have too much time to get on the ice. He says he hopes to master some slick moves on the ice before the spring.

And when the ice melts in spring, what happens then? Lucas says the surface changes.

"Behind you will be a fountains that people can run and splash around in. And the Park Tavern will be open as well."

The Tavern, which will offer snacks and light meals, will open after the first of the new year.

For directions and hours of operation check the Canal Park website.

Watch the video of the park from WTOP's Kate Ryan

WTOP's Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

Follow @KateRyanWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)