Midlands families soon may be making figure eights as well as new holiday traditions when Columbia’s first downtown ice skating rink opens this week.
The city of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation Department has teamed up with Magic Ice U.S.A. to build the rink in Boyd Plaza, at Main and Hampton streets.
Work to install the square, 63-by-50 arena, similar to downtown Greenville’s rink, began Saturday. By comparison, Rockefeller Plaza’s rink is 122 by 59 feet. New York City’s famous arena also began life as a temporary fixture.
The Parks and Recreation Department’s Tezra Haire said she hopes residents will embrace the latest addition to outdoor recreation in Columbia.
Johnny Ingram, an ice technician with the Florida-based Magic Ice, said the rink will take about five days to set up.
Once it’s built, a 200-ton “chiller unit” will work to freeze the water and set the ice in place.
After the rink opens, a golf cart with an ice resurfacer and water tank mounted on the back, known as an Ice Wizard, will maintain and keep the ice smooth. (Sorry Zamboni fans; this is the competition.)
The surface of the ice may melt “a little” especially when the afternoon sun hits it, but the rink is actually in the perfect location, Ingram said.
Boyd Plaza, in front of the Columbia Museum of Art, “is a fantastic spot,” he said. “It gets a little bit of sun during the day but the (Wells Fargo) building takes over and shades it so well.”
Want to give it a whirl? “Main Street Ice” opens Thanksgiving Day.
But be forewarned: No jumping, spinning or triple axels are allowed. For safety reasons, only free skating will be permitted.
Oh, and no hockey either, Ingram added – and no curling.
“It’s a sad thing,” he said, chuckling. “To see all that ice out there and you can’t play on it.”
Reach Lucas at (803) 771-8657.