How Honolulu Ice Show Golden Moment Transforms the Blaisdell into an Ice Rink

On the 25th anniversary of winning an Olympic gold medal, Kristi Yamaguchi, Tony Award-winning singer Lea Salonga and a slew of champion skaters raise funds for childhood literacy at this event Sept. 9 and 10.
Golden Moment
Photos: Courtesy of always dream foundation


Combine Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi with a slew of champion skaters and Tony Award-winning singer Lea Salonga, and you’ve got Golden Moment, an event benefiting early childhood literacy that turns Blaisdell Arena into a frozen stage.


Yamaguchi returns to the Islands Sept. 9 and 10, joined by fellow figure skating champions Shizuka Arakawa, Yuka Sato, Daisuke Arakawa, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who will perform skate routines backed by live music.


The event features an appearance by Hawai‘i favorite Salonga, best known for breakout performances in Miss Saigon and Les Misérables on Broadway. Olympic gold medalist Brian Boitano will co-host.


We couldn’t help but ask how hard it is to whip up a temporary professional skating rink at Blaisdell with the temperature outside hovering in the mid-80s.


It takes some pros with a plan. Ice Rink Events, one of the country’s leading seasonal ice rink builders, ships in all the necessary equipment, including a massive refrigeration system and special Zamboni. That also includes 3,000 gallons of glycol propylene, the same mixture of water and antifreeze used in the frozen-food industry and to de-ice planes, which is pumped from the refrigeration system set up outside the Blaisdell to the rink set atop three large ice mats set down as a base. It takes 16 miles of tubing laid out an inch apart to form the framework for the coolant.


Workers use hoses to spray water over the tubing to build ice up in layers over several days, working around the clock. They stop midway to paint one of the layers white, using nontoxic biodegradable paint specially designed to stick to the ice. To stay frozen in Hawai‘i’s warm weather, the skating ice is laid especially thick— about 2 inches—and then maintained at a frosty 22 degrees Fahrenheit. That whole process takes about five days in all, but when it’s finished, there’s a 400-meter grand oval skating rink—right in the middle of Blaisdell Arena.


Yamaguchi established the Always Dream Foundation in 1997, as a nonprofit that funds after-school programs and literary resources for underprivileged and at-risk youth, as well as those with disabilities.


Two years ago, the first Golden Moment show raised more than $200,000 here; net proceeds went to support Title I schools in Hawai‘i. This year, the Always Dream Foundation’s Always Reading literacy program will receive funds to help it reach more than 400 kindergarten children across seven elementary schools on O‘ahu.


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Disclosure: Our parent company aio media is a sponsor of Golden Moment.