Winter Activities: Ice Skating + Bright Nights

In keeping with our fun seasonal trips (like our fun fall weekend), Josh and I created a list of winter activities we could do in the local area. I had done some research, but a lot of the winter activities in New England involved skiing/snowboarding/snow activities, and neither of us wanted to do that. So we settled on ice skating at MGM Springfield, Bright Nights at Forest Park in Springfield, a Springfield Thunderbirds game, and going to Christmas by Candlelight at Old Sturbridge Village.

Up first: ice skating and Bright Nights.

Ice Skating

This past Thursday night, we decided to go ice skating. I had gone ice skating at MGM two years ago, but Josh had never been—and has only skated once about 15 years ago.

The plaza was fully decorated for Christmas. The castle-like building in the background of the first and third photos is the State Armory that was built in the late 1800s and was damaged during the June 2011 tornado that went through Western MA. It was turned into an event space and comedy club as part of the casino.

Josh and I both rented skates and then it was time to hit the ice. Josh spent the entire time skating around the very edge of the rink, holding onto the railing, while I skated around a bit. I used to go skating with my dad a lot when I was younger—like 10 or 11—but it came back to me pretty quickly. And unlike last time I went, I did not fall.

Toward the end, a machine up on the roof started blowing bubbles out over the ice rink. Although it was bubbles, it really looked like snow falling down and made it feel a lot more festive.

We spent about 45 minutes on the ice before deciding we were both hungry and it was time for dinner. We took a selfie near the giant tree, and some nice woman had seen us and asked if we wanted a picture together. So thanks random woman for taking our picture!

We went to TAP Sports Bar for dinner, which is right inside the casino near the ice rink. We both ordered beers and a giant pretzel, and I would have gotten a picture of the giant pretzel if it hadn’t been for David Ortiz walking through the restaurant.

Yes, you read that right.

Big Papi was in the house, and we completely missed him walking in—considering he walked right by us. There was a group at the bar off to the left from us, and they started yelling, and Josh and I were confused; it turned out they were yelling at Ortiz as he was walking by. And by the time we realized what was going on, he and his security squad were by us and into the back room.

We were utterly shocked, trying to figure out why he was in Springfield. Apparently, it was a VIP session because people were coming and going out of the back room where he was. I said to Josh, “Well he [Oritz] has to come back out by us, right?” and a waitress walking by was like, “Yes, he does.”

So we ordered our meals and ended up getting a second round of beers to wait for Ortiz to come back out.

And boy, we weren’t disappointed. Please see the video below of David Ortiz, 10-time All-Star, 3-time World Series Champion, World Series MVP, 7-time Silver Slugger, and Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame inductee, wave directly into my phone.

After that, what else do I have to do in life? I’ve completely peaked and will be retreating from public life until further notice.

Josh took video too and he got my reaction to Ortiz waving into my phone. And after he left, we just sat there like, wait, what just happened?!

It’s funny, though, because we weren’t originally planning to go to MGM that night. We had planned to go to Bright Nights (which you’ll read about below) on Thursday and ice skating this coming Thursday, but with Josh’s schedule, we had to rearrange ice skating and Bright Nights.

Then we had been debating whether to skate first, then eat, or eat first, then skate; we opted for skating first and then eating. Then it came down to the time we got to TAP and where we were sitting. I really think the universe was looking out for us because, seriously, what are the odds???

So yeah, ice skating was great, but seeing Big Papi was even better.

Bright Nights

Saturday night, Josh and I had our second winter date night of the week. We got dinner together at the bar where we’ve gone for trivia on Tuesdays over the summer before heading to Forest Park.

Bright Nights is your annual holiday light display, and in 2019, I actually ran a 5K race through the park when all of the lights were set up. I’ve only been to Bright Nights a handful of times; my parents and I went when I was younger, and we went again after my race because I had gotten a free ticket in my swag bag.

It took us about 20 minutes to drive through the whole park. There’s a special radio station you can listen to while going through, which we obviously did. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any celebrities but it was a cute Christmas activity to do in the area.

Up next on our winter activity list: Springfield Thunderbirds game (again)

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