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Father's backyard ice rink moves to the Watergate Hotel rooftop

Father's backyard ice rink moves to the Watergate rooftop (Mike Carter-Conneen/ABC7)

The Watergate Hotel has transformed its rooftop into a winter wonderland, featuring a synthetic ice rink. The admission fee will help support a good cause.

In 2015, Marc Kohn built the $35,000 rink in his Poolesville, Maryland, yard, welcoming neighbors and even strangers to use it. He affectionately named it Mel's Rink in memory of his late stepdaughter, Melanie, who was an avid hockey fan.

“I still gotta pinch myself in the morning, saying, ‘I can't believe Mel's rink is on the top of the Watergate,’” Kohn said.

Because Montgomery County had ordered him to dismantle the rink in 2015, citing zoning and code violations, he found a temporary home last winter in Rockville, partnering with the Jewish Community Center there.

This winter, he decided to aim high, sending emails to different D.C. hotels with rooftop bars.

Kohn said, “I got a call like an hour later saying, ‘Hey. Can you come for a meeting tomorrow? Let's talk.’”

The Watergate quickly embraced the partnership and the concept. For the winter season, the Top of the Gate bar and lounge will serve up s'mores, stromboli and hot pretzels, plus spiked hot chocolate and other alcoholic drinks for adults.

The Watergate’s General Manager Jeff David said, “[The space] is just filled with heaters and fire pits and a lot of elemental things.”

The only ice on the rooftop will be served in drinks. The “ice rink” uses a high-density plastic that's covered with a slippery top coat that feels just like ice.

“Think of it as a huge cutting board,” Kohn said.

The rink and rooftop are open to the public. Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are encouraged.

Admission costs $20 for adults and $10 for kids. A portion of the proceeds will raise funds for the Mel's Rink Foundation.

Kohn said he will put the money toward his dream of opening an indoor rink – to be called The Facility of Ability - for disabled and able-bodied children.

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