PORT ANGELES — Heavy overnight snow brought an abrupt end to the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village on Wednesday after the tent covering the ice skating rink collapsed under the weight of up to 18 inches of the white stuff.
Village organizers called off the rest of the season, which was scheduled to end next Monday.
Mark Abshire, executive director of the Greater Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, which organized the ice village, said the snowstorm was much more intense than anyone envisioned.
“We got a lot more snow than expected,” Abshire said. “We were expecting 8 to 10 inches and it looks like we got more than 18. We would have been able to handle 8 to 10 inches with no trouble, but we got a whole lot more than that.”
When organizers came to the site Wednesday morning, the 40-foot by 140-foot tent, owned by 7 Cedars Casino and made available for the ice village project, had collapsed in the middle with a broken spine and sagging sides. Other smaller tents at the village site were also crumpled under a thick blanket of snow.
Ron Sather, facilities manager for 7 Cedars Casino, said Wednesday that he felt as broken as the tent he was surveying.
“My heart sank and I got sick to my stomach,” Sather said. “I was thinking last night, I wonder how the tent was doing.
“I called Marc (Abshire) this morning and a few minutes later, I found out it had collapsed.”
A tent crew from the casino was to be summoned Wednesday to see what could be salvaged.
“We’re going to get some manpower in here and assess the damage,” Sather said. “Looks like we’re going to have to take it out in pieces. Some of the pieces will have to be cut to get it out of here.”
The 4-year-old tent had been used for numerous casino and Jamestown S’Klallam tribal events and was available for use by other organizations. Most recently, it was used for the October groundbreaking gala for the Field Arts & Event Center, less than a block away from the downtown ice village site.
Abshire spent time Wednesday morning shutting down the ice-making equipment and turning off power to the rest of the village. He said there was a minor coolant leak in the equipment, but the process to dismantle the temporary rink and adjoining village would continue.
Abshire said he had hoped for a strong final weekend of ice skating, adding that a party for village volunteers had been scheduled at the rink. Those plans were dashed by the winter storm.
Chamber of Commerce board member Steve Burke was on the site Wednesday morning to help pick up the pieces.
He said it was ironic that the ice village would come to an unscheduled end because of ice and snow.
“No good deed goes unpunished,” Burke joked. “Try to do a good thing and get hammered. But you adapt and move on.”
Photojournalist Keith Thorpe can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 59050, or at [email protected].