Keeping it Cold: Ice Skating in Highlands
Keeping it cool is just one of the many steps that maintains the Highlands Ice Rink’s status as a not-to-be-missed wintertime destination. For information or reservations, call (828) 526-3556 or visit highlandsnc.org/recreation-ice-rink.
The Town of Highlands Ice Skating Rink opened Nov. 19 for the 2020-2021 season and will remain open until March 7.
And, while individuals and families who participate in the strictly wintertime activity see only the finished product, Lester Norris of the Highlands Park & Recreation Department, explained that the work crew must plan, prepare, and maintain the rink to ensure that skating is an enjoyable experience.
“The first thing we have to do is clear the plaza (Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park) of picnic tables and chairs,” he said. “Then we have to install 2-inch Styrofoam insulation, and then a liner, which holds the water. Tube mating that comes in 6-foot wide rolls is put in place, along with footers and sideboards. And then the tubes are ready to be filled. The chiller has to have power on for 24 hours to be chilled down to 17 degrees F.”
The final step involves spraying water on the surface or allowing rain to freeze the surface naturally.
“The hardest maintenance issue is keeping leaves off the rink,” said Norris.
Daily, before ice skaters arrive, a Zamboni device is used to scrape off the ice surface and remove any debris, and then the ice is sprayed with a fresh coat of water. Norris said equipment and materials are kept in storage when not in use.
“The colder the ice, the easier it is to skate on it, so we are always making sure it doesn’t get too slushy,” he added.
Plus, the 125 pairs of skates must be sharpened twice during the ice skating season.
Adhering to North Carolina pandemic rules and procedures, The Town of Highlands Ice Rink will allow only 30 skaters on the ice at one time, and online reservations are necessary. Norris said donations are welcomed this year, above the $5 skating fee, to help offset limited income.
Information about parties, times, dates, and other concerns are addressed by calling Highlands Parks & Recreation Department at (828) 526-3556 or by visiting highlandsnc.org/recreation-ice-rink.