By SEAN ROWLEY
Though the weekend weather made travel difficult, the Snowflake ice rink still attracted plenty of skaters who wanted to spend time outdoors, balancing on blades.
The closing of Tahlequah Public Schools and other Cherokee County schools Monday created another skating opportunity, but there were only a couple of teen skaters on the ice at 3 p.m. Monday, braving the cold.
“This is a great time to skate,” said Ginna Johnson of Keys. “We are able to put a little speed behind our skating.”
Rayne Bailey of Tahlequah said Snowflake provides her only opportunity to lace the skates and hit the ice.
“I did learn to rollerblade at Skatehouse,” she said. “This is very similar, but it is a lot of fun to skate outdoors, even if it is really cold. Every year, we look forward to this starting in November.”
Monday at 3 p.m. notwithstanding, rink manager Dusty Fore said the turnout for ice skating has been good, despite rain and snow on a couple of weekends.
“We never know what the weather will do,” he said. “Last year, we had 70-degree days. This year, it has been so cold that the compressor shut off. It didn’t need to run. We get about 70 people here on weeknights. When the weather is nice on the weekends, we’ve had a couple of hundred people here every day.”
Johnson said moving the rink across the street from Norris Park made for a better skating experience: “Now there is enough space for everyone.”
“It’s a great place to hang out with your friends and have fun,” Bailey said. “And the hot chocolate, I’m really enjoying that.”
Fore encouraged locals to visit the rink, adding that he has seen some patrons who have moved from Tahlequah, but make a point to return to skate during Snowflake.
“If you haven’t come out to do this yet, this is definitely something you need to do,” he said. “You can make some memories out here with your family. There aren’t very many smaller towns that take the time to do something this cool.”
The 62-foot by 120-foot Snowflake ice-skating rink is across from Norris Park on Morgan Street. There are no sessions as in previous years. Hours are 5-10 p.m. when Tahlequah Public Schools are in session. On days when school is out, hours are 2-10 p.m. Skates are provided if needed and are included in the admission price.
Admission for each day is $10 for all ages. Groups of 10-19 are admitted for $9 per person. Groups of 20-plus can skate for $8 each.
Snowflake patrons get discounts with donations of canned goods on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Admission is $8 with a canned food item.
The rink can be rented for $250 an hour each day at 8 a.m. and from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. To rent the rink, call (918) 456-0651, ext. 257.
The Snowflake Winter Festival runs through New Years Day. For information, visit www.snowflake winterfest.com.