By ROB W. ANDERSON
As near-freezing temperatures arrived this week, so did the City of Tahlequah’s newest holiday season attraction.
City workers began set-up of the Snowflake ice skating rink in Norris Park on Monday, and when it opens Thanksgiving Day, patrons should glide around the 62-foot-by-120-foot sheet of ice smiling from ear to ear, said Mayor Jason Nichols.
“I can’t get over the sheer size of the thing. People are going to enjoy themselves even more just because of how big it is,” he said. “That was the only complaint that we received last year, and now we think we’ve got that covered.”
Last year, patrons skated on a 50-foot-by-70-foot ice rink for 90 minutes at a cost of $10. A ticket for Snowflake 2012 is still $10, but the sessions have increased by 30 minutes for a two-hour skate on 62 extra square-feet of ice. The $8 advanced tickets will be available until Friday, Nov. 16, and schools are beginning to contact the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce to schedule skate sessions, said Chamber Executive Director David Moore.
“We’ve sold a few advanced tickets and expect to sell more this week. They are available at the Chamber until this Friday,” he said. “[Tickets] will be $10 for a regular session. Tickets for groups of 10 or more are $9, while groups of 20 or more are $8.”
The crew size and other logistical matters influence the timetable for set-up, but the rink should be making ice by Wednesday, said Magic Ice USA rink installer Nathan Hanisch.
“[Complete set up] varies with the number of people you get to help and when the materials come, but you’re probably looking at five days [for everything to be ready,]” he said. “This rink is 62 [feet by] 120 and an Olympic ice rink is 100 [feet by] 200 [feet]. NHL rinks usually run anywhere from 85 [feet by] 180. They differ.”
The city purchased the rink from Magic Ice USA for $130,000, which included 300 pairs of skates, and Nichols believes patrons will be able to enjoy the Snowflake event for the next several years.
“We really believe this is going to be more of the real deal. This will be the ongoing thing for a decade,” he said “We bought [the ick rink] and they have an estimated life of about 10 years. You never want to speak that far out, but I would imagine that it would still be popular and wanted.”
Because of its increased size, the rink will be located just east behind the Norris Park lavatory building and will rest in a sort of south to north position on the grass. Skaters will step on to the ice from the south end. The inaugural year provided a learning curve for operators to consider other ways to use the rink. Skating lessons or 4-on-4 hockey games will be pondered this year, said Nichols.
“We had thought about a lot of those things last year, but then we’re not from northern states and didn’t quite realize the scale of everything. With this one, once it gets set up, we’ll put some more thought into it,” he said. “We want to make sure, before we make any of those promises, that we can handle it, but this looks a lot more promising with those kind of ideas. And so, yeah, there’s a possibility.
“Maybe we could even have a little hockey tournament or something. It looks big enough that we could actually get some goals and do something.”
For ticket information, call (918) 456-3742.