Outdoor skating season begins at Robson Square

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      It's time to lace up the blades in downtown Vancouver.

      That's because this is opening day for the free outdoor skating season at Robson Square.

      The minister of citizens' services, Jinny Sims, was present for the launch along with families from the B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation and Skate Canada's B.C. and Yukon division.

      They were serenaded with holiday carols by the Quayside Voices.

      Those who take to the ice are being asked if they will make donations to the foundation to fund the creative arts program at B.C. Children's Hospital.

      “The Robson Square winter season is about bringing people together to enjoy the spirit of the holiday and the ultimate Canadian pastime—skating!” Sims said in a government news release. “We’re proud to keep this important tradition going for the thousands of people who come here each year and also help raise funds to improve the lives of children facing health challenges in our province."

      For those without any gear, it's possible to rent skates and helmets on-site.

      Last winter, almost 120,000 people skated at Robson Square.

      Nearby fashion retailer Nordstrom, which is housed in Pacific Centre, is the December-long sponsor for the fourth consecutive year.

      "As a company, we're proud to give back to the communities we serve, and we're thrilled to continue to support this annual holiday tradition on behalf of B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation," store manager Loredana Grama said in a company news release.