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Winter Returns Just in Time for the Great Skate Winterfest this Weekend

January 16, 2019 - American Hockey League (AHL) - Grand Rapids Griffins News Release

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Grand Rapids Griffins players, coaches and staff will be joined by local celebrities, sled dogs, ice sculptors, horse-drawn carriages, winter sport athletes, museums and community partners at the 2019 Great Skate Winterfest, which will run for 34 consecutive hours this Saturday, Jan. 19 and Sunday, Jan. 20 at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids.

Everyone is invited to join this celebration of winter in our city and help the Griffins Youth Foundation provide opportunities for more than 350 deserving boys and girls - many of whom are underprivileged, underserved, at-risk or have special needs - to participate in the great sport of hockey at no cost.

The fun begins at noon on Saturday with the 10th annual Winterfest, a day full of winter-inspired events, sports demonstrations and family activities, and concludes with the 16th annual Great Skate, a 24-hour skating marathon with Griffins players that runs from 10 p.m. on Saturday until 10 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to the Great Skate Winterfest is free, although donations are encouraged and nominal skating fees apply ($3 adult, $1 kids).

Highlights of the Winterfest include public ice skating; on-ice demonstrations/performances by the Grand Rapids Sled Wings sled hockey team, the Grand Valley State University Synchronized Skating Club, the West Michigan Speedskating Club, and the Greater Grand Rapids Figure Skating Club; a heated family activity tent featuring caricaturist David Wodarek, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Grand Rapids Children's Museum, the Grand Rapids Public Library, John Ball Zoo, Safe Kids Greater Grand Rapids, Mobile GR and Parking Services, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., and the Brain Injury Association of Michigan; sled dogs from Shemhadar Dog Sled Adventures; ice sculptures by the Ice Gurus; and horse-drawn carriage rides by Classic Carriage. All events are subject to change and times vary. Please visit for complete details.

The Great Skate will commence at 10 p.m. Saturday, after the Griffins' home game against the Milwaukee Admirals has wrapped up a few blocks away at Van Andel Arena. Griff and Finn, the team's mascots, will take the event's opening shift, and every Griffins player and coach will follow for an hour each, skating with fans, Griffins Youth Foundation players, local hockey teams, and media personalities around the clock until 10 p.m. on Sunday, which will also feature a 3 p.m. ice sculpting demonstration by the Ice Gurus. The lineup of Griffins skaters can be found at

Through that web site, fans can help raise money for the Griffins Youth Foundation by sponsoring their favorite Griffin or collecting pledges for their own participation in the Great Skate. Attendees will also have the chance to participate in an on-site silent auction that features an array of unique items from national and regional sports teams along with local entertainment venues, cultural institutions, hotels, breweries, restaurants and merchants.

The Great Skate Winterfest is presented by the Griffins, the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Foundation, Meijer and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Other sponsors include Mobile GR and Parking Services, Centennial Securities, Smallegan Real Estate with Keller Williams, Connoisseur Design, FASTSigns, Gilmore, and Michigan First Credit Union.

Established in 1995, the Griffins Youth Foundation promotes academic excellence, community involvement and healthy lifestyles among the youth of West Michigan, enhancing their lives through hockey and ice-related sports. The foundation's programs currently include co-ed hockey for first through 12th graders, a girls-only division, a learn-to-skate program, and the Grand Rapids Sled Wings sled hockey team for children and teens with physical disabilities.

For more information about the foundation, visit

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