Dec 062006
 
Authors: Aaron Bell

Despite its small size, the charm and holiday spirit surrounding the ice rink in Old Town Square makes it a popular place to enjoy an evening of skating outdoors.

Laughing patrons filled the rink despite the below-freezing temperatures Saturday. Everyone from small children using inverted trash cans for support to adults taking a break from their shopping seemed to be enjoying themselves tremendously.

The rink has been drawing holiday shoppers to the downtown area with its festive atmosphere since the 2005 holiday season, said Mike McDonnell, Recreation Administrator for Ice and Aquatics with the City of Fort Collins.

“It takes about two weeks for crews to set up the rink,” said McDonnell. The rink uses chillers and pipes that run under the ice to keep the rink frozen.

The rink is only 60 feet by 40 feet, too small to use a zamboni to maintain the ice. Instead, the staff use snow shovels to clear the ice, and the rink is flooded with water once a day to keep the ice smooth.

“Ice won’t be perfect outdoors,” says McDonnell. Old Town rink is “an outdoor rink that maybe takes you back to your childhood.”

The outdoor atmosphere is what distinguishes the Old Town rink from Edora Pool/Ice Center (EPIC), the other ice rink located in town and run by the city.

“The Old Town atmosphere really adds to it, and Santa is right next to the ice rink,” says McDonnell.

According to a news release on the City of Fort Collins Web site, the rink saw 6,000 visitors last holiday season, an impressive number given the relatively small size of the rink.

On weekends the rink sees about 300 skaters. Once local schools let out for the holidays, McDonnell expects to see that number of skaters every day.

Located at Walnut and Linden in the heart of Old Town Square, “The rink was provided thorough a partnership among the City of Fort Collins, the Downtown Development Authority, and the Downtown Business Association,” according to the news release.

When asked what kind of people the Old Town rink was designed for, McDonnell said, “People who don’t usually skate. We keep the fees low to allow people who have never skated to get into it.”

Staff writer Aaron Bell can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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Comparison of Rink prices in Fort Collins

Old Town- Located at the north end of Old Town Square; Admission: $2, Rentals: $1

EPIC (Edora Pool/Ice Center)- Located 1801 Riverside Dr.; Admission: Youth (2-17) $3.75; Adult (18-59) $4.75; Senior (60-84) $4.25; Rentals: $2 (information from fcgov.com, city Web site.)

Centerra Ice Rink- Located at Centerra in Loveland; Admission: $5; Rentals: $2

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