Submitted by Anna Uyeda for Olympia Parks, Arts, & Recreation

When I was about 5-years-old, I was going to be a doctor, a ballerina, and an ice-skater. Always a multi-tasker, this triple-career plan seemed totally doable. I started things off with ballet lessons and some doctoring of my younger siblings and stuffed animals. For the ice skating, I was limited to studying the skaters I saw on TV, which in the 1980s meant my idols were Katarina Witt, Gordeeva & Grinkov, Scott Hamilton, and local favorite Rosalynn Sumners.

Oly on Ice Anna Uyeda
The writer, pictured right at age 5, with her sister on the far left, had her dreams of being a professional figure skater dashed – is age 40 too late to start? Photo courtesy: Anna Uyeda

My two grandpas were in full support of this plan. One, Boompa, promised to build me my own rink, and I took him at his word. The other, Grandpa Bill, told me he’d take me skating for the first time when the pond on his farm froze over. So, I waited as patiently as a 5-year-old can for my rink to be built and for winter to hit, so I could get going on the axel jumps I was sure I’d be a natural at.

Construction on my private rink must have hit some permitting snags for Boompa, as the rink was slow to materialize, but all hope was not lost. On our next winter visit to Grandpa Bill’s farm, he let me know that the pond had frozen over and he was going to take me and my little sister down to skate. We grabbed some worn old skates, probably the same ones my mom and her sisters had worn as kids, bundled us up, and we began the trek down the slope to the pond at the bottom of the hill.

What happened next is a bit of a blur. I remember Grandpa sitting us down to lace up our skates. I remember it was cold and damp, a typical northwest winter day. I remember looking out over the icy pond, a ball of excitement, and seeing the mist along the shore settling into the brown, dry grass. I remember the feeling of him lacing up my skates and them feeling too tight – I probably complained, it’s what five-year-olds do best.

Then, there was a splash and my little sister was in the water. While Grandpa Bill was lacing my skates, she apparently made her way curiously out onto the ice (it’s what three-year-olds do best). The pond was thin in some spots, so in she went. It wasn’t deep, she was safe, but she was cold and wet, so off went the skates and back up the hill we went to warm her up. There went my dreams of becoming a professional figure skater.

After cycling through dreams of becoming a biologist, actress, archeologist, and teacher over the next twenty years, I found myself falling into a career as a storyteller, which brings me to today. As a staff member with the City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation Department, it has been part of my job to help bring Oly on Ice to Olympia. I’ve talked with dozens of community members and business owners about why having a seasonal rink downtown is a good thing for the South Sound.

Oly on Ice events
There will be a variety of special events taking place throughout the Oly on Ice season. Visit for a full schedule. Photo courtesy: City of Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation

Every time I’ve talked to someone about the chance to come down to the rink to skate with their family and friends, or even just watch, I’ve seen a little twinkle in their eye. What is normally a dreary time in the northwest, when we all retreat to our cozy homes and hibernate until spring Arts Walk, suddenly has the possibility of some magic to it. Our inner five-year-olds are ready to get out on the ice, grab hands with a friend, and fly and spin and maybe fall.

I for one, plan to lace up my skates, grab my little sister, and forgive her for dashing my dreams. I hope you’ll grab some of your favorite people and join us.

Oly on Ice is open from November 16-January 6, with details on hours, pricing, and special events at and the City of Olympia’s Facebook page.

Oly on Ice
Oly on Ice is open November 16-January 6. It’s been a team effort with City staff, community sponsors, programming partners, and vendors all working hard to make this a fun experience for one and all! Photo courtesy: Anna Uyeda
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