PORT ANGELES — Bigger, better, brighter, longer…
The 2019 edition of the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village promises to be an expanded version of last year’s ice skating rink, the village’s organizer said.
Marc Abshire, executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the village, located in a city-owned parking lot in the 100 block of West Front Street in downtown Port Angeles, will build upon the successes of the inaugural 2018 edition.
A larger sheet of ice, more lights and an expanded skating season are among this year’s offerings when it opens Friday.
“The major things that are different is that it will be a longer rink,” Abshire said. “Instead of being 80 feet long, it’s going to be about 100 feet long, almost 25 percent longer.
“It’s going to be open longer, so instead of six weeks, it’s going to be open eight weeks, closing on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 20).”
Instead of relying upon a rented generator to power the pumps and chillers, the city power utility has installed an on-site electrical connection, a major advantage for power availability and noise abatement.
“We’re going to use Bonneville power on a meter instead of a generator,” Abshire said. “We’re paying for electricity out of ticket sales.”
Horticulturalist Andrew May, who writes a weekly gardening column for the Peninsula Daily News, was in charge of installing more than 112,000 miniature lights in the tent that covers the rink and around the village site, including a collection of Christmas trees contributed by Lazy J Tree Farm.
He said through a Facebook post that installation was estimated to total about 280 hours of labor.
“What I really want to do in the design is to decorate in such a manner that, if nothing else was there, you would still bring your family or friends down just to walk around,” May said. “This year we’re very pleased to have 32,000 lights in the ‘Forest of Light’ sponsored by Lazy J.”
May posted that stringing lights in the tent was not an easy task.
“The challenge, especially with the tent, is designing that infrastructure to hang the design,” May said, “because as a whole, tents were not made to have 52,400 lights.”
The rink is scheduled for a soft opening Friday with an official grand opening celebration planned for 5 that evening.
Skating will be open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and weekends from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. through Dec. 19. After that, hours will be 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The rink is scheduled to be open from noon to 6 p.m. Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, and from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. New Year’s Eve.
Individual skating sessions cost $15 for adults and $10 for children, veterans and seniors. The price includes skate rentals, but people with their own skates can get $3 off the session fee.
Skating aids and helmets for small children will be available at no extra cost.
Abshire said the village will offer season passes for skating enthusiasts this year. The price will be $150 for adults and $100 for youth, military personnel and seniors.
“We’re selling season passes that are good any day except on weekends,” Abshire said. “We don’t think a lot of season pass-holders will want to skate on a weekend because it will be so crowded.”
There is no admission charge to the village itself so people are free to watch others skate.
Abshire said last year’s ice village tallied about 15,000 skate sessions.
“I’d guess that translates to about 13,000 skaters,” he said. “Probably a couple of thousand of those are repeaters.”
In addition, the skating rink will offer a live video feed at skatecam.org once the rink opens. Village organizers experimented with a live cam last year, but it was operational for only part of the six-week 2018 skate season.
“You can watch people skate and you can see if it’s busy or not,” Abshire said.
The village is still in need of volunteers, Abshire said. Organizers created a volunteer list in October, but about 1,000 volunteers slots remain available from opening day through January.
Photojournalist Keith Thorpe can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 59050, or at [email protected].