How does the city keep ice rinks from melting?

(Tribune photo )
December 22, 2011|By Leonor Vivanco, RedEye

Winter in Chicago hasn't been brutal yet.

It's actually perfect weather to lace up your skates and show off spins and jumps on the ice.

And it hasn't been too warm that the ice at skating rinks around the city have melted. The Millennium Park ice rink has a high-tech chilling system that lies underneath the concrete to manufacture a hard layer of ice and keep it frozen, said Matt Nielson, deputy commissioner of the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, which oversees the park.

The cooling system combined with daily treatment and hourly Zamboni rides keeps the ice cold and safe even if it's sunny with temperatures hovering at 60 degrees, he said.

Other rinks in the city operated by the Chicago Park District have cooling coils to keep the ice in tact as long as it's about 50 degrees or cooler, said Marta Juaniza, park district spokeswoman.

Mild temperatures around Thanksgiving meant minor delays for the nine outdoor ice rinks around the city – with the exception of Millennium Park.

The Millennium Park rink, which has 100,000 annual visitors, opened on Nov. 18 and has been ready for skaters ever since. It is open through March 11 and is free.

Meanwhile, the other rinks were all open by Nov. 30, Juaniza said. Skating season at most rinks ends Feb. 26.

Admission is charged at two rinks: McFetridge Sports Center, an indoor rink at 3843 N. California Ave., is $5 for adults. The Rink at Wrigley is $5 for adults Monday through Thursday and $10 Friday through Sunday.

Skate rental prices vary. Admission is free at the following rinks:

-Daley Bicentennial Plaza in Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St.

-McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing Road

-Midway Plaisance Park, 1130 Midway Plaisance North

-Mt. Greenwood Park, 3721 W. 111th St.

-Riis Park, 6100 W. Fullerton Ave.

-Rowan Park, 11546 S. Avenue L

-Warren Park, 6601 N. Western Ave.

-West Lawn Park, 4233 W. 65th St.

lvivanco@tribune.com | @lvivanco

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