PORT ANGELES — It turns out Port Angeles has an affinity for ice skating, business leaders heard Wednesday.
The first-year Port Angeles Winter Ice Village shattered expectations with 14,100 skating tickets sold in six weeks and turned a $29,500 profit, said Marc Abshire, Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director.
The profit will be used to make a down payment on another rented skating rink for the 2019 Ice Village, Abshire said in a “State of the Chamber” address at the Port Angeles Red Lion Hotel.
“It’ll be back,” Abshire said. “It’s a done deal.”
Ice Village volunteers sold an average of 320 skating tickets per day between Nov. 23 and Sunday. Organizers were hoping for a daily average of 200.
“We were thinking that we would break even if could get about 6,000 or 7,000 skate sessions,” Abshire told about 70 chamber members. “The best case was around 10,000.
“Fourteen thousand skate sessions? That’s amazing,” Abshire added.
“People in Port Angeles like to skate, apparently, but about 180 volunteers made it happen.”
The volunteers worked 652 shifts and 4,172 hours combined.
The chamber also received strong support from local businesses, tribes and individuals to turn a city-owned parking lot at 121 W. Front St. into a Christmas-themed ice village anchored by a 3,200-square-foot, portable skating rink provided by Ice-America of Harbor City, Calif.
Abshire estimated that the in-kind contributions amounted to $48,000.
“One of our goals for the Winter Ice Village was to increase the traffic downtown for the downtown businesses,” Abshire said.
“There was traffic.”
Financially, the Ice Village had about $209,500 in income and $180,000 in total expenses.
“They’re my estimates, but they’re really close to what it’s going to end up being,” Abshire said.
During its six weeks of operation, the Ice Village sold 5,000 $1 cups of hot chocolate. It had 230 Zamboni runs to smooth the ice and burned 5,500 gallons of diesel to keep the ice cold, Abshire said.
Lakeside Industries of Port Angeles provided the generator that powered the chiller and installed the pad for the rink. Masco Petroleum provided diesel to power the generator at wholesale cost, Abshire said.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe donated the tent that covered the aluminum rink.
Andrew May, local horticulturalist and Peninsula Daily News gardening columnist, installed 85,000 lights as part of the decoration.
“We need more power for double the lights next year,” May said.
The Ice Village received “huge sponsorship” from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and Strait View Credit Union, Abshire said.
Other major sponsors and contributors included Sound Community Bank, Port Angeles Reality, Wave Broadband, Vanir Construction, Lazy J Tree Farm, Pennies for Quarters, Redd’s Sheds, Jackson Smart and others, Abshire said.
Eight school groups and 12 private parties rented the skating rink. Abshire predicted that the Ice Village would draw more school groups in 2019.
“It was that last week before Christmas break where most of them came in, and they had a great time,” Abshire said.
“We learned so much as we went though this thing about organizing things, and we’re going to get better at it next year.”
There were two injuries reported at the Ice Village in its 44 days of operation.
An accomplished skater who attempted an advanced maneuver fell and hit her head on ice, sustaining a concussion, and a 14-year-old boy from Texas fell and broke his arm, Abshire said.
Abshire said he, too, fell on the ice and sustained a mild concussion.
“We have it on video, if anybody’s interested,” Abshire said. “Oh boy.”
Chamber officials will consider renting a longer rink for next year’s Ice Village.
“We’d like to envision a way to do a regulation-size, hockey-size rink at some point down the road, but I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves here,” Abshire said.
“It will be enough, I think, to just get a little bit longer.”
Another possibility for 2019 would be an ice-covered inner tube slide, Abshire said.
Thanks in part of the success of the Ice Village, the chamber turned a $59,424 net profit in 2018 with $634,424 in income and $575,000 in expenses, Abshire said.
“We are generally going in a positive direction, and about half of that net profit is from the Winter Ice Village,” Abshire said.
“The other half is just chamber operations, keeping expenses down and revenues up.”
By comparison, the chamber netted $18,000 in profits in 2016 and $2,000 in 2017.
In other chamber news, Abshire announced that he had signed a three-year contract with The Landing mall owner Erik Marks to keep the chamber office and Port Angeles Visitors Center in the small brick building at 121 E. Railroad Ave. through 2021.
Abshire also reported that chamber membership grew from 421 to 438 in 2018 with a “very healthy” 95-percent retention rate.
Early in his presentation, Abshire reviewed the chamber-organized events on 2018, including new events like the Port Angeles Maritime Festival.
“The theme behind a lot of these is we’re trying to do more and more outside the months of June, July and August and September,” Abshire said.
Chamber officials will discuss goals for 2019 in a board meeting Friday.
Edna Petersen, owner of Necessities and Temptations gift shop and the chamber board member who championed the Ice Village idea, said the organization tried a “whole bunch of stuff that was outside the box” in 2018.
“We are no longer a ho-hum chamber,” Petersen said.
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikai[email protected].
Terry Ward, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum, serves on the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce board.