Providence’s on-ice bumper cars are the only ones of their kind in New England.Photo Credit : Courtesy of Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau
You’ve probably been on ice skates, but you’ve almost definitely never been in ice bumper cars — a kind of vehicle you pilot across the ice, hoping (or not) to crash into other cars. Unless, that is, you’ve been to the Providence Rink lately.
Not only does the rink in the heart of downtown Providence have ice skating, but it also offers on-ice bumper cars, the only ones of their kind in New England. Available for rides on the ice every day, the colorful cars have been understandably popular. “It’s been consistently busy,” says Brant Gawrys, general manager of Alex and Ani City Center, where the Providence Rink is located. “Our weekends have been full basically a month in advance.”
On the weekends, the first hour of the day at the rink is devoted to bumper cars, when they have the entire rink to spread out. After 10 a.m., though, the rink opens up to ice skating — but part of the ice is still reserved for bumper cars. “It shrinks the space, but you have more bumping into each other. Folks like that quite a bit, too,” Gawrys says. (The only caveats are that any kid from 3 to 5 years old needs to ride with an adult, and no one is allowed on the bumper cars while wearing ice skates.)
The bumper cars have been popular with kids — who wouldn’t be the most popular kid in their grade after hosting an ice skating and bumper car birthday party? — but also with adults, with or without kids in tow. “We’ve had groups of adults come do this without kids and have a night out,” Gawrys says. “A lot of parents come do bumper cars and then go out to dinner or have a drink.” There’s also a late-night bumper-cars-only hour on Fridays and Saturdays, from 10 to 11 p.m.
This is Providence’s second year of ice bumper cars. Before they debuted here last winter, ice bumper cars existed in only one other location: the rink in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where Mike Farny first invented them and founded his business, IBC International. Today there are ice bumper cars in 13 locations across the country, including Manhattan’s Bryant Park. “This company was really just getting their start [last year],” Gawrys says. “It’s been more successful than they anticipated, for sure.”
When the attraction opened in Providence, Mayor Jorge Elorza called it “the most exciting thing that we have done since I’ve been mayor.” IBC has since used Providence as a selling tool — because, really, when you have a mayor gleefully riding one of your inventions, you’re going to use that to your advantage as much as possible.
Thinking of giving ice bumper cars a whirl? There’s typically plenty of weekday availability, and day-of spots tend to open up on weekends because reservations shift around.
The Providence Rink at Alex and Ani City Center. 2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence. 401-680-7390; theprovidencerink.comThis post was first published in 2019 and has been updated.