Valpo Parks to open Central Park Plaza Ice Rink
As the holiday season kicks off, Valpo Parks is going to open the Central Park Plaza Ice Rink with some restrictions. The rink, set to open November 30, will not have open skate due to COVID-19 related restrictions.
“This is the same thing we’ve done with our other programs since March,” Executive Director John Seibert said. “We’ve had to take precautions with any of the activities we’ve done. We’ve been working with the health department to adjust our capacity as the levels in Porter County have changed.”
Instead of an open skate, the ice skating rink will be open to youth hockey and skating lesson programs to limit groups to 25 people. Skaters, staff, and parents not on the ice will be required to wear masks. The Valpo Parks staff is taking the necessary sanitation precautions to ensure the safety of skaters and staff. Dan McGuire, Director of Facilities for Valpo Parks, has been overseeing the implementation of the extra sanitation protocols.
“We made the adjustments to give people the opportunity to skate, be outside, and get some fresh air,” McGuire said. “The health department is allowing us to do one-hour rentals to small groups where social distancing can be achieved. We’re thankful that the health department has let us do that and for people to enjoy the holiday season.”
The ice skate rink, located at the William E. Urschel Pavilion in Valparaiso, is built over the course of around a week and a half every year. There are about nine miles of piping that help cool the pad in the pavilion. The equipment is stored in trailers that were donated to Valpo Parks by Indiana Beverage.
Once the pad is cooled, the dasher boards are attached via anchor bolts into holes drilled into the concrete. After the bolts are tightened, water is sprayed into the rink that quickly freezes. The white color skaters see on the ice is actually a mesh material that is rolled onto the ice and sprayed down. Once all the equipment, logos, and the rink is set up, a Zamboni ice resurfacer is driven around the rink to smooth out the ice and make it a safe surface for skaters.
“When it’s all said and done, you’re skating on about two inches of ice,” McGuire said. “With the temperatures being warmer in recent days, we’ve had to take our time to get the rink nice and cool for ice to form.”
“We’re going to be evaluating as time goes on,” Seibert said. “If we can get to level orange, we might be able to do an open skate once the capacity can be higher.”
Once the hockey lessons begin, the staff will take a half an hour in between lesson groups to properly sanitize high touch areas.
“In between each one-hour rental, we will take a half an hour off to wipe down everything and disinfect the facilities. Especially high traffic areas like benches, bathrooms, and tables. We’ve put in six hand sanitizer stations so people feel safe coming in to skate.”
People can call in to Valpo Parks for rentals beginning November 24. Along with the ice skating rink opening, Valpo Parks is planning on turning on the Christmas lights at dusk on Friday, November 27.
“We usually do a Winterfest every year, where we have lots of people there to watch,” Seibert said. “Since we can’t have large gatherings like that, we want people to know when the lights will be activated so they can enjoy them at their leisure.”
If you are interested in learning more about Valpo Parks and their winter activities, visit their website at https://valpoparks.org or to schedule a rental of the ice skating rink call the office at 219-462-5144.