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Outdoor Ice Rinks Opening This Winter

The Park District will offer outdoor ice rinks at three outdoor locations 
this winter:
  • Longfellow Park (with lights for evening use)
  • Austin Gardens
  • Taylor Park (with lights for evening use)
Outdoor ice rinks are created when weather is cold enough. The rinks will display a green flag when the rink is open for use and a red flag when they are closed. Bring your own skates, there are no rentals available.
 

Maintenance Procedures for Outdoor Ice Rinks

The Park District strives to provide access to outdoor skating venues, but we are reliant on Mother Nature. Please be patient and help us provide a safe and enjoyable experience for all of our users.

1. The physics behind water freezing is surprisingly complex: and depends, among many other factors, on surface/ground temperature, water temperature, water depth, water area, air temperature, and sunlight. Water simply doesn’t freeze instantly outside any more than it does in a freezer.

2. Ice itself is an insulator. The thicker the ice, the longer it takes the underlying water to freeze at a given temperature.

3. The greater the water depth and area the longer it will take to freeze at any given temperature. A 10ft X 10ft. area of water 2in deep at 25 degrees Fahrenheit could take more than a week to freeze.

4. Direct sunlight on the surface of the ice causes it to melt, especially if the ice is cloudy.

5. Debris (leaves, sticks, dirt) in the ice absorbs heat and creates holes in and on the ice that may make the surface unsafe.

6. Skating wears away the surface of the ice, decreasing thickness and safety. That is why indoor rinks use Zambonis to resurface, and add water to, the ice. The Park District typically tries to re-apply a top coat of water and will close the outdoor rink until it is safe to skate. Ideally this is done in low temperatures (Under 20 degrees) so that it can be opened 8-10 hrs later, but warmer temps can push that time to over a day.

7. Ice rinks are inspected daily during the outdoor skating season for safety. If deemed unsafe or susceptible to damage, they are closed.

8. Damaged ice can be very difficult to repair. It is better (and safer) to close for a day or two to prevent damage than to close for 2½ weeks to repair the ice.
 
9. Fluctuating temperatures will cause the ice to melt, which means it has to refreeze, with the same variability as freezing the first time.
 
10.Staff will provide a green flag notification at each individual Park District outdoor ice rink location when it is open for skating and a red flag when it is closed.
 

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