By ROB W. ANDERSON
Mother Nature has been hard on the frosty conditions found only in Norris Park these days, but the Snowflake Winter Festival ice skating rink crew has worked tirelessly to keep the skating surface viable and enjoyable.
Recent public and private sessions had to be canceled due to melting brought on by wind and 70-degree temperatures, but the Saturday night public session following the Tahlequah Christmas Parade, Dec. 1, went off without a hitch, and folks had a great time, said rink supervisor Dusty Fore.
“It was really, really busy. People were taking off their flip-flops and putting on their ice skates,” he said. “I was out there in a T-shirt. We were scrambling to get the ice open for the session after the parade. When the ice melts, it leaves a crack along the boards and we lose water, and it starts melting. We had to shovel a bunch of sand up against the boards and spray a mist to get the sand to freeze to keep to keep the crack filled.”
The Dec. 2 session had to be canceled due to the melting effect created by the unseasonably warm weather.
Work on shoring up the crack where water was leaking at the base of the rink boards, or wall barrier, need to be performed after the sun and temperatures drop, said Fore.
“We’re learning as we go. The more time we spend with it, the more tricks you learn,” he said.
New Tahlequah resident Lauren Young hasn’t been able to enjoy the ice skating with her family yet, but the Snowflake Winter Festival and other related activities taking place in the North End District affirmed her decision to move to Tahlequah.
“We saw it last year and wished we could have [skated], but our daughter was so little. This year, we’re planning on it for sure. I bring my daughter [to Norris Park] daily since we’ve been back, which is not even a week now,” she said. “[My husband is] really excited about it. He and his buddies who are originally from here are really excited that they’re doing all of this. That’s primarily one of the reasons we moved back to this area. It’s probably one of the most unique small towns that there is because of [things like the Snowflake Winter Festival].”
Fourteen-year-old Jacob Washington enjoyed last year’s skating rink, but he was glad to see a much bigger sheet of ice on which to continue developing his skills this year. He said the conditions are a tad rough, but overall, the skating has been great.
“It was too small last year,” he said. “[The surface] is pretty smooth. There’s some bumps in it, but so far, it’s been pretty good. You’ve just got to get used to the ice. It’s slick. You can go sideways. It’s uncontrollable, almost.”
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