Niagara’s own Madhatters band played an outdoor concert for skaters in the Agora at Fort George on Sunday afternoon. The stage was set up rink-side to provide entertainment for families taking time out from holiday preparations to enjoy an afternoon of skating.
Frank Pietrangelo, lead singer and guitarist of the band was happy to have his children skating while the Madhatters performed. “What a gorgeous day,” he said after the band finished their first set. Pietrangelo was clearly enjoying watching his sons on the rink, wearing their Toronto Maple Leaf jerseys. “It’s great when the kids can be here and watch dad play,” he said, especially when most of The Madhatters’ shows take place long after his sons are already in bed.
And it was a gorgeous day. It was unusually warm for the day after the winter solstice, with temperatures in Niagara-on-the-Lake hitting a high of seven degrees Celsius under clear, sunny skies.
Seven degrees is nothing compared to the heat Virginia Lucente is used to back in Australia. Lucente has come back to Canada with her husband and their two children to visit with her extended family for the holidays. They live on the eastern side of Australia, near Brisbane. It is mostly beaches where she lives, she says, and the temperature at this time of year is closer to 30 degrees Celsius than seven. They have been in Canada since the beginning of the month, and she remarked on how happy she was that it snowed the first day they arrived. Since then, they have been capitalizing on every snowfall by ticking off all the snow-related activities on their list to accomplish before they return to Australia. She was thrilled her daughter was able to build a snowman and go tobogganing. Accompanied by her Aunt Courtney, Lucente’s four-year-old daughter donned skates at Fort George for this skating adventure, the last item on their list.
The sun was just beginning to lower and shine through the trees as the concert ended. People started to migrate inside The Agora to put their boots back on and grab a snack. Others, like Holly-Rose Shields-Dandy, came in to warm up with a hot chocolate by the fire. Shields-Dandy, a student at Western University in London, has returned home to Niagara for the holidays. She said since coming home, she felt she had to “get into the Christmas spirit as fast as possible” in six days. She started by getting dressed up and attending the Candlelight Tea at the Prince of Wales with her mother on Saturday afternoon, where “the decorations are amazing.” She and her mother then took a stroll through town and went shopping at Just Christmas, and then, with her parents, decided skating at Fort George was another good way to get into the spirit of the season.
The Vintage Hotels – Parks Canada skating rink is open over the holidays, including Christmas Day. Skate rentals are $5, helmet rentals are free and the concession, dedicated staff and rentals are available during specific hours.
Please be aware of the special holiday skating rink hours by checking the website at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/on/fortgeorge/activ/patinoire-rink for hours of operation and special events. For more information on the holiday events at Fort George, visit website: www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/on/fortgeorge/activ/calendrier-calendar.
As for what’s next for The Madhatters, they will be performing on Dec. 26, 27, and 28 at the 365 Lounge at the Fallsview Casino, and on New Year’s Eve at the Spyce Lounge at the Niagara Falls Hilton.
For more information, visit madhattersband.ca or contact Frank Pietrangelo at 905-328-2344 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.