Ashland's ice skating season will kick off with a new rink cover and hockey exhibitions, music and ice sculpting.
Workers have been putting the finishing touches on the ice rink so it will be ready for opening festivities on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Each year, a parking lot on Winburn Way across from the Lithia Park children's playground is transformed into an ice rink.
The rink has been without a cover since 2007, when its old cover was crushed by a tree and heavy snow, leaving the ice exposed to sun and rain.
The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department paid $251,200 this fall for the new cover.
The cover will reduce rink closures and program cancellations caused by bad weather and sun exposure, parks officials said.
"Over 10,000 visitors skate at the ice rink each year and the cover will help on those tricky weather days," said parks Superintendent Rachel Dials.
The rink attracts Ashland residents as well as visitors from throughout Southern Oregon and Northern California.
This season, the rink will have preliminary, understated openings on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 21-22, with open skate sessions from 2 to 6 p.m. and adult hockey from 7 to 10 p.m.
A range of activities is planned for the official opening on Saturday, Nov. 23.
"It should be a fun night. It's a good kick-off to the 2013-2014 ice skating season," said Parks Recreation Coordinator Lonny Flora.
The festivities will include:
- Local artist Roger Butterfield transforming 1,200 pounds of ice into an ice sculpture near the rink from 3 to 7 p.m.
- A 5 p.m. Southern Oregon Adult Hockey Association exhibition game between the Stars and the Sharp Skates Kings
- Skating for the public with music provided by DJ Hope from 6 to 10 p.m.
- Beginning at 7:30 p.m., an approximately 45-minute break for speeches, ice smoothing and potential performances by the Southern Oregon Figure Skating Club.
- Chilly the Snowman mascot visits with kids
- Distribution of discount coupons
- Half-price rink admission and regular skate rental prices
Regular rink admission is free for children under age 5, $3.50 for youths under age 14 and $4 for adults. Skate rentals are $2.50 per pair for a four-hour session.
For information on prices, regular schedules, holiday schedules, ice skating lessons, scholarships and more, visit www.ashland.or.us/IceRink or call the ice rink at 541-488-9189.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or firstname.lastname@example.org.