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Rockefeller Center Skating Rink Turns 75 on Christmas Day

By DNAinfo Staff on December 23, 2011 7:31am  | Updated on December 23, 2011 12:43pm

A skate pond chief helps a child at the Rockefeller Center rink in 1936, the first year it opened.
A skate pond chief helps a child at the Rockefeller Center rink in 1936, the first year it opened.
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Rockefeller Center

By Ben Fractenberg and Tom Liddy

DNAinfo Staff

MANHATTAN — Even in black and white, the holidays at the Rockefeller Center skating rink look cheery.

With the famed Midtown ice skating pond turning 75 on Christmas Day this weekend, DNAinfo got a peek at some photos from the rink's earliest moments.

In one, a skate pond official can be seen helping a smiling child who has fallen on the ice and in another, figure skaters wow the crowd.

Since then, the rink, adorned with a bronze statue of Prometheus, has hosted generations of tourists and New Yorkers alike, some 11 million in all, and become a symbol of the holiday season.

"After 75 years, The Rink is still enchanting for all who visit it," said Nick Valenti, CEO of Patina Restaurant Group, which operates The Rink.

(L-R) Rockette Karen Ritchie, figure skater Kurt Lingenfelter, figure skater Colleen McGuire, Patina Restaurant Group CEO Nick Valenti, figure skater Josiah Modes and Rockette Rhonda Kaufman Malkin celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink on Dec. 22, 2011.
(L-R) Rockette Karen Ritchie, figure skater Kurt Lingenfelter, figure skater Colleen McGuire, Patina Restaurant Group CEO Nick Valenti, figure skater Josiah Modes and Rockette Rhonda Kaufman Malkin celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink on Dec. 22, 2011.
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Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

"It has been here for generations, leading to memories and long-lasting traditions.  We are proud to be a part of its history and look forward to many memorable years to come."

To celebrate the occasion, figure skaters Colleen McGuire and Josiah Modes as well as members of the Rockettes took to the ice Thursday.

When the rink debuted on Dec. 25, 1936, it thrilled patrons with night skating, piped-in music and a heated changing house.

The original Restaurant Francais and English Grill that surrounded the rink have since been replaced by the Sea Grill and Rock Center Cafe.

And this year the Skate House has been expanded and brightened for the season, which starts in October.