By Linda Kubitz
Sunnyvale’s former Ice Palace is now Vito’s Pizza Parlor
For many years Sunnyvale had its own ice skating rink. With the requisite fireplace, snack bar, and rental skates, the Ice Palace was popular with skaters of all levels – from novices clinging to the safety rail to skilled skaters gliding confidently around the rink. For the residents of Sunnyvale, where snow and ice rarely appeared, the Ice Palace was a unique place where one could retreat from the outside world for awhile and skate to music broadcast from overhead speakers.
Sidewalk roller skating was a much-loved children’s activity in the mid-1970s. One afternoon, as a special treat, my neighbor and I took our young children to the roller skating rink on Reed Avenue, right here in Sunnyvale. Upon our arrival, however, we found the roller rink closed for the day! With four disappointed children in tow, and eyeing the Ice Palace right next door, my neighbor and I settled on Plan B – we’d try ice skating instead! Wobbly ankles and all, the children had a great time on the ice that day, especially my five-year old daughter who came away “hooked” on ice skating. After talking about little else for days afterward, my husband and I enrolled her in a series of ice skating lessons at the “Palace”.
After one of those lessons, while Amy and the other girls in her class were enjoying a “free skate” period, her teacher and I chatted with each other for a while. As we talked, our attention was drawn to a young boy, about twelve years old, skating in the center of the rink. We watched as he leapt and twirled, clearly head and shoulders above everyone else on the ice. That’s when Amy’s teacher told me something I’ve never forgotten. “That young boy is going to be famous some day”, she said. “Remember his name: Brian Boitano”.
Brian Boitano grew up to become a world champion ice skater and win the gold medal in the men’s singles figure skating competition at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. Newer residents to our area may not know that Brian was raised in Sunnyvale, attended Ponderosa Elementary School and Peterson High School, and began his championship ice skating career at Sunnyvale’s Ice Palace. Like other local residents, my family and I were thrilled to watch Brian skate in the Olympics. Every time the announcers mentioned his hometown of Sunnyvale, we cheered!
The Ice Palace, located on a corner of Reed Avenue near Lawrence Expressway, closed down many years ago. The building still stands, but now houses a pizza parlor and an auto shop. When I spoke to the pizza store owner recently, he indicated that people occasionally come into his restaurant to ask about the old Ice Palace. He mentioned his desire for photos of the rink to hang on the wall.
My daughter took ice skating lessons for only a year or so; other, more practical activities took their place. But she had fun while the lessons lasted, learned enough to “hold her own” in the sport – and, like others who skated at the Ice Palace during those years, can forever say she “shared the ice” with Olympian Brian Boitano!