New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fight with the Trump Organization has turned Serena Sabet, a senior at the Spence School, into a figure-skating activist determined to keep two iconic ice rinks in Central Park open. And, she’s seeing early success.
The city announced last month it would end all business with the Trump Organization after then-President Donald Trump was accused of inciting the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Trump was acquitted of incitement in a Senate impeachment trial after leaving office.
That changed late Sunday after the mayor’s office said it would now allow Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink in Central Park, which have been run by the Trump Organization for decades, to stay open under current management “for the few weeks left in this season.”
“New York City kids deserve all the time on the ice they can get this year,” the statement by press secretary Bill Neidhardt said.
The two rinks were in the process of shutting Sunday, six weeks earlier than when the contracts were set to end, due to the city’s termination of ties with Trump.
More than 6,000 people signed a petition that Sabet and two of her friends started Friday evening to stop the closures. About 250 people were slated to lose their jobs due to the closing, according to the Trump Organization, which appealed the contract terminations. The city has said it’s looking for replacements to run the rinks.
Ice Hockey in Harlem, a non-profit that enables 300 children to practice at the rink in Central Park North free-of-charge, also had said it was caught off guard by the closure. “It’s the one thing that they have, and it’s been taken away from them overnight,” program director Malik Garvin said in an interview on Fox News Sunday, before the city changed course.
New York City joined the parade of businesses that cut ties with the former president. The Trump Organization has more than $17 million in contracts with the city, including many iconic tourist attractions. The Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park generated $9.4 million in income for the Trump Organization, according to its most recent financial disclosures.
“Ice skating shouldn’t be political,” Sabet said in an interview Sunday from her home on the Upper East Side, before she knew the rinks would remain open.
On Saturday, she spent 10 hours at the rink passing out a QR code with the petition to people waiting on the skate rental line. “Donald Trump is so rich, the rink being taken away from him is not going to make a massive difference.”
Eric Trump, executive vice president of the Trump Organization, had earlier pointed blame at de Blasio.
“This is purely a political stunt that only hurts New Yorkers,” Trump said in a statement. “Instead of focusing on a dying city which everyone is leaving because of rising crime, high taxes, closed businesses and totally incompetent leadership, the mayor is painting signs in front of Trump Tower and trying to destroy the only outdoor activity available to children during a pandemic.”
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