Erin Jamison-Koenig, Communications Director
Located in Kosciusko County, Winona Lake is home to 5,000 people, Grace College and Theological Seminary, the Billy Sunday Home Museum, and now, an outdoor ice-skating rink.
“A facility like the Miller Sunset Pavilion does not exist anywhere in Kosciusko County,” Craig Allebach, Winona Lake Town Manager, explained. “The town has always been a destination but what was lacking is a covered venue and activities during the winter.”
On November 19, 2022, the Town of Winona Lake opened the doors to the brand-new attraction – 22,000 square feet of gathering space at the Miller Sunset Pavilion. The Pavilion is open on three sides and the fourth side can be opened or closed with four large glass garage doors.
The structure is designed to be a community gathering space with year-round activities and attractions. In the summer, the Pavilion will be used for farmers markets, concerts, art fairs, weddings, and more. During the winter months, the Pavilion will play host to an ice rink. Opening day for the Miller Sunset Pavilion also commemorated opening day for the rink.
Since opening in November, skating has become a popular destination for locals and beyond. The rink is open Tuesday through Sunday and has skate rentals and lessons available. After a successful pilot program earlier this year, Wednesdays are now dedicated to junior and adult Stick N’ Puck. The rink has become well-liked by school groups, home-school students, families, and more.
Two buildings were constructed on either side of the Pavilion. One houses skate rental and storage lockers, concessions, and restrooms. The other is home to the Zamboni and storage for tables, chairs, and other facilities equipment. A wrought iron fence encircles the entire area for security.
The design of the Pavilion was inspired by the original Billy Sunday Tabernacle and sits where the tabernacle once stood. The Tabernacle was fundamental to the establishment and growth of Winona Lake.
The Pavilion was named in honor of Mary Louise Miller and her late husband Dane. Dane once gave an interview about re-purchasing his company. He said they could have ridden off into the sunset but chose instead to buy back the company to support employees.
The Millers not only gave the Pavilion its’ name; they helped bring the Pavilion to life. Mary Louise Miller and the Miller family donated the land. Mary was instrumental by leading the development through formation of WL Ice, LLC. The company developed the project, including the purchase of rental skates, the point-of-sale system, and rental lockers through a build, operate, and transfer agreement.
The K21 Health Foundation gave $1.5 million to the project after offering funds to any town in the county who wished to put in an ice rink. To complete the rest of the funding for the $6.5 million project, the town received donations from the public and secured bond funding. Donors contributing $250 or more had the opportunity to have an engraved brick to honor the memory of a loved one, leave a family legacy, or pay tribute to a role model.
At the back of the Pavilion, a large fireplace and seating area will keep skaters warm and provide a spot to relax and enjoy hot chocolate. The fire pit area was funded through a CreatINg Places campaign and matching IHCDA grant.
“The Pavilion allows for year-round programming and draws even more people from the county, state, Midwest region and even the nation to Winona Lake.” said Allebach