Shawn Kidwell, an employee of Ice-America, a California-based company that rents portable ice rinks, applies water on Tuesday, Nov. 16, to the refrigerated surface of a temporary rink that will be the highlight of the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Shawn Kidwell, an employee of Ice-America, a California-based company that rents portable ice rinks, applies water on Tuesday, Nov. 16, to the refrigerated surface of a temporary rink that will be the highlight of the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Peninsula ice skating rink to open; 6-week season begins Friday

  • Thursday, November 18, 2021 4:30pm
  • News

Break out the scarves and mittens because the ice is back in town.

Now in its fourth season, the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village is set to open Friday morning, Nov. 19, for a six-week run in a city-owned parking lot at 121 W. Front St.

The village centerpiece is a temporary ice rink with skating available daily from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Jan. 3.

The rink — the only one on the North Olympic Peninsula — closes for 30 minutes at noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. for ice resurfacing.

Admission for unlimited skating is $15 per day for adults and $10 for children ages 3 to 12 with family admission at $40 for a family of four and $5 for each additional family member available.

There is also a $150 season pass for avid skaters.

Skate rentals are included in the price.

Accident waivers, required for anyone using the rink, are available online at wintericevillage.com, and advance signups are strongly encouraged.

Marc Abshire, executive director of the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce — which organizes the ice village — said assembling the event has become easier with practice.

“The only thing different this year is we kind of know what we’re doing,” he said. “This is our fourth season, and a lot of the things we’re doing is muscle memory — putting up the different platforms, the different grades on the skate ramp, where we’re going to put the ticket office … all the little things.”

This year’s ice village returns to the holiday season after COVID-19 restrictions prompted cancellation of winter skating in 2020. Instead, organizers opted for a shortened 2021 spring season.

Leslie Robertson, events manager for the chamber of commerce, said commonsense COVID protocols would be in place using county health department guidelines that include masking requirements and recommendations for crowd spacing.

“(Health officials) said we can use our best guess. They trust us,” she said.

There are no vaccination requirements for participation or attendance.

Steve Hargis cuts pieces on Wednesday, Nov. 17, for a viewing platform for ice skaters at the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

Steve Hargis cuts pieces on Wednesday, Nov. 17, for a viewing platform for ice skaters at the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Olympic Peninsula News Group

One facet of the village that can never be controlled is the weather. A winter storm in January 2020 almost brought an abrupt halt to the skating season after up to 2 feet of snow collapsed the tent over the skating rink. Volunteers dismantled the destroyed covering, and the final days of skating took place in the open air.

Abshire said that would not happen again.

“We’re no longer going to believe the forecast,” he said. “If there is any snow in the forecast, we will be here, even in the middle of the night, making sure the snow doesn’t collect (on the tent).”

Steve Hargis, a chamber of commerce board member and village construction guru, said longer push rods to remove accumulated snow would be available during inclement weather.

Unlike the first two skating seasons, there will be no Santa Claus for children to visit this year. Abshire said having the Jolly Old Elf around wasn’t really necessary.

“We found that (Santa) really wasn’t a big draw here,” Abshire said. “People don’t go to the skating rink to see Santa Claus. They’d rather go to some of the other locations where they’re used to finding Santa.”

On Wednesday morning, much still needed to be done to complete the village, including construction of a viewing platform on the public side of the rink.

Hargis said there are always tasks to complete on opening day.

“In the past, we’ve never had any of this done on time,” he said.

But Hargis added the village would be far enough along to make it an enjoyable experience by Friday’s opening.

The skating rink and associated equipment are rented from California-based Ice-America, a company that provides temporary rinks to locations and venues across the continent.

Ice-America employee Shawn Kidwell, who was making ice on Tuesday, said assignments to Port Angeles were coveted within his company.

“This is the one event every year that we fight over,” he said. “We ask, ‘Who’s the lucky guy who gets to go to (Port Angeles) every year?’

“We just love this town — great volunteer work and the whole community takes pride. Everyone is so friendly here, and this is very different from everywhere else we ever go to.”

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