Donald Trump’s Wollman Rink: A sample of what a private sector president could do

I have spoken very well about a possible Donald Trump presidency, but maybe some of my evidence was a bit too complicated for the non-political voter without deep roots into historical perspective. Some are skeptical of Trump because of his use of bankruptcy laws, eminent domain—and even social etiquette. People have been conditioned over a long period of time to believe that only politicians are qualified for “public” office and that the “rich” should not be trusted—except when funding the political campaigns of the political establishment. Starting really with Teddy Roosevelt, the rich—“fat cats”—were to be despised and publicly scorned to appease the masses turning their heads toward the communism of China and the Soviet Union as a future possibility in America. Given that, the natural reaction to Donald Trump is that he isn’t qualified to be president. But I beg to differ. Watch the following video, about 20 minutes in and you will see a version of Donald Trump that if President has all the ability to do exactly what he did in New York with his work at the Wollman Rink.

Wollman Rink is a public ice rink in the southern part of Central Park, Manhattan, New York City. The rink was opened in 1949 with funds donated by Kate Wollman (December 5, 1869 – October 15, 1955) who donated $600,000 for the rink to commemorate her entire family from Leavenworth, Kansas. Kate’s brother was William J. Wollman who operated the W.J. Wollman & Co. stock exchange firm originally in Kansas City and later in New York. After he died in 1937 she helped administer his estate. Historically, the rink has been open for ice skating from October to April and in the summer seasons is transformed into a venue for other purposes.

For many years the rink was the venue for a series of outdoor summer rock, pop, country and jazz concerts. Then it was known as The Wollman Theater or “The Wollman Skating Rink Theater”. In the summer of 1957, WOR-radio personality Jean Shepherd hosted a series of memorable jazz concerts at the Wollman with Billie Holiday, Bud Powell, Lionel Hampton, the Dave Brubeck Quartet, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Dinah Washington and others. The first summer music festival at the rink opened on July 1, 1966 and was sponsored by Rheingold Beer. The Rheingold Central Park Music Festival also took place during the summer of 1967.[1] The next summer, Schaefer Beer took over sponsorship. The first annual Schaefer Music Festival opened on June 27, 1968 and continued each summer through the summer of 1976.[1] The following summer, Dr Pepper became the sponsor, and the first Dr Pepper Music Festival opened on July 6, 1977 and ran annually through the summer of 1980.[1] Led Zeppelin, the original Allman Brothers Band and singers Tammy Wynette, Peggy Lee, Judy Collins and Pete Seeger are some of the greats who played the 5000-seat Wollman during those years.

Wollman Rink has been featured in several movies, including Love Story and Serendipity.

The rink was closed in 1980 for an announced 2 1/2 years of renovations. When the problem-plagued work was not completed by the city by 1986, Donald Trump persuaded Mayor Ed Koch to let him complete the work and he completed the renovations in three months to have it open by the end of the year. Koch initially objected to Trump’s proposal when Trump offered to pay for the renovations himself with the stipulation that he be allowed to run the venue and an adjacent restaurant and use the profits to recoup his costs. Public pressure prompted Mayor Koch to reverse his position.[2]

Wollman Rink is currently operated by the Trump organization, and is today known as the Trump Skating Rink. Donald Trump operated the rink from 1987 to 1991.[3] From 1991 to 2001 George Makkos from The Makkos Organization of M&T Pretzel, operated Wollman Rink. Since 2001, Wollman Rink has been operated by a joint venture between Trump Organization and Rink Management Services of Mechanicsville, Virginia. The Trump name is prominently displayed on the walls of the rink as well as on the Zamboni that maintains the rink. Operation of the Lasker Rink on the north edge of Central Park is also handled by the group.

In 1961 Kate Wollman’s estate donated funds for Wollman Rink in Prospect Park which closed in 2010. Among her other philanthropies was paying for the schooling of great nephew Henry Wollman Bloch, founder of H&R Block.[4][5][6][7]

If not for Donald Trump there would be no Wollman Rink today. It would have died on the vine stuck in government apathy swallowing endless amounts of money while accomplishing nothing—like most government work. The amount of government projects right now that could tell the same story as the Wollman Rink presently is likely countless. What they all need is a Donald Trump to jump-start their projects in the right direction and unleash their limitless potential. But to do that the advocate would have to be a lover of capitalism and convince Democrats to get out of their way, just as Trump did with Ed Koch—who was not a fan of Trump at the time. But the real estate tycoon used his charisma to do something really good for New York and is just one example of how one man can make a tremendous difference if so empowered.

I have no doubt that Trump would push the American Constitution to its limits—in ways that Teddy Roosevelt likely never dreamed of. But I’ve read his books and I know the guy well enough to realize that if I give him the keys to the car that he’ll bring it back without me having to hunt him down with the Second Amendment. I think Trump for all the theater is a generally sincere person who can do for all of America what he did for the Wollman Rink. I see Donald Trump infinitely better, and more capable than anybody who has run for president in last century. The concept of taking a lost ice skating rink mired by politics and unleashing it to the private sector into a blazing success is just what is needed to spur growth in all sectors of our economy, from public education, to drilling for oil. All sectors of our economy could use the Donald Trump spirit of entrepreneurial persuasion that can turn opponents into benefactors in a way that nobody else is capable of. To understand Donald Trump as president, just think of the Wollman Rink and you’ll understand what to expect from 2016 on—no learning curb, no meandering, from day one. I believe only Donald Trump can provide the results America needs to put our country back on the right course—where it should have been all along. It needs a businessman, not a politician. We’ve had enough of those.

Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman


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