He expects the ice rink to become an established seasonal part of Downtown Brentwood’s holiday experience. He hopes it will boost downtown traffic, helping Brentwood to become an important destination for shopping, business, and entertainment. The rink will remain in operation until January 7.
Tom is pushing the ice rink as a community project. The “Brentwood on Ice” name comes from Tom’s purpose of attracting holiday foot traffic that would be good for downtown businesses, as well as providing a source of happy family entertainment
The Brentwood On Ice site has a snack bar offering food and beverages for hungry and thirsty skaters. Bathrooms are located at the adjacent Community Center with convenient onsite porta-potties. The ice rink is available during normal operating hours for people wishing to host ice-skating themed birthday parties, holiday parties, or any other happy event. The cost is only $250 for two hours. The price includes a tent, table, chairs, and a host who will assist with setup and greet guests as they arrive.
Brentwood On Ice hours of operation are 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. On Fridays and Thanksgiving Day it will remain open until 10:30 p.m. On Christmas Day it will be, open 3:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. On New Years Eve it will open at 11:00 a.m. and might stay open until everyone goes home (or the sun comes up). On Mondays with one ticket purchased, veterans get a free admission. Tuesdays are Family Skate Nights. A family of four pays only $35, which includes skate rentals. Wednesdays feature live music from school bands and choirs. Thursdays are Rock N Skate nights. Young beginning skaters can get the assistance of a Rent a Skate Helper that assists the skater with balance and control.
Tom Gregory’s family moved to Brentwood in 1926, and for years Tom said he nurtured a dream of opening an ice rink in downtown Brentwood. Tom has been engaged with the City of Brentwood at every level and is on the board of directors for the Brentwood Chamber of Commerce. Tom is a faithful supporter of more fundraisers and outreach events than he can remember. He’s been involved in the city at so many levels that his Got A Party business is the current Business of the Year.
Tom said that he put his ice rink plans on the back burner during several seasons when the Streets of Brentwood played host to a professional ice rink. When the rink failed to reopen a few years ago, Tom decided to wait for a while to see if it would reappear before launching his icy downtown dream. Last spring, however, he experienced a migraine attack so severe that he didn’t know if he would survive. After regaining his health, he decided to take a few items off his bucket list, including his cherished dream of a downtown rink. He’s continuing to pursue the project in spite of the fact that an ice rink will once again return to the Streets of Brentwood.
Anyone who knows Tom Gregory is aware that he is a full-speed-ahead-and-damn-the-torpedoes kind of guy. Long before the first stake was driven into the ground at the site, Tom threw a lot of personal resources into plan, purchasing everything he could in preparation for the project. He admitted with a rueful smile that it might turn out to be the worst business investment he ever made. However, he said, “Life is too short to not go out on a limb for a dream.”
Tom knows that it’s a dream and not a fairy tale because he expects to operate for 5–6 years before he can hope to pay for the equipment he has already purchased, but that’s just the beginning. It will cost $250,000 up front each year to reopen the rink plus an estimated annual PG&E payment of $20,000 during the seven weeks it is in operation.
The city council recognized Tom’s intention by not only giving him a three-year lease on downtown city-owned property, but also giving him a grant for nearly $30,000 as seed money to get the project started. The Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Business Coalition, and a number of the downtown merchants are throwing their support behind the project, as well. Tom said the project “would be on thin ice” without sponsorships supplied by a number of local merchants.
Tom said that he takes some hope from the fact that Brentwood On Ice will be a holiday affair. It might be a little easier to try to keep the operating budget in the black during a time when people typically have unusual amounts of kindness in their hearts. A growing tide of holiday cheer might lift a brightly lit skating rink to levels of prosperity that would be impossible during other times of the year.
At any rate, Tom plans to enjoy every minute of this first season. He says that he will have as much fun watching people skate as they will have while skating. He anticipates that his pleasure from the project will never fade and that on his deathbed he will be able to look back and take satisfaction from helping bring a joyous holiday event to Brentwood that people will enjoy after he’s gone.
We hope his dream comes true. Thank you, Tom Gregory, for investing so much time and energy in pursuing this dream of bringing so much fun to so many people.