By Rob Ollikainen
Olympic Peninsula News Group
The Port Angeles Winter Ice Village has been postponed until March because of COVID-19 precautions, organizers said.
The third season of the popular outdoor skating rink and winter village in downtown Port Angeles originally was planned to be held from Dec. 4 to Jan. 4.
Given recent spikes in COVID-19 transmission locally and across the region, organizers now plan to operate the ice village and temporary skating rink from mid-March to mid-April.
“We’re very sorry that we’re sure to disappoint a lot of kids in our area who were looking forward to skating over the holidays this year — especially during this time when they really could really use an outlet,” said Marc Abshire, Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director, on Monday.
Chamber officials decided to postpone the season after consulting with Clallam County health officials.
“The chamber was very intentional in creating conscientious safety plans and worked very closely with our office to make sure the ice village could be done safely,” county Health Officer Dr. Allison Unthank said in a Tuesday email.
“I do feel that epidemiologically the risk for physically distanced masked skaters would have been quite low, and we approved their plans.
“I believe the primary decision for the rink to close was more based in the uncertainty around what further regulations may come out of the state in coming weeks.”
Abshire said the chamber had been working with the health department to develop “Safe Skate 2020” procedures to keep skaters and their families as safe as possible.
“Our local community has been doing really great at helping to stop the spread of this virus, but the potential for an alarming rise in cases that has recently developed has caused us to decide that postponing this activity to a later date is the right thing to do,” Abshire said in a Monday announcement.
Last season, the temporary skating rink, at 121 W. First St., provided more than 18,000 skating sessions to locals and visitors from as far as Seattle and British Columbia, Abshire said.
More than 1,200 shifts were filled by volunteers over eight weeks. Prices were kept as low as possible because of volunteers, donations and sponsorships from community-minded businesses, Abshire said.
In a Tuesday interview, Abshire said the rented skating rink will be the same size this spring as it was last winter.
Exact dates for the spring season will be determined in the coming weeks, Abshire said.
“We’re happy to announce that kids of all ages can now look forward to skating over spring break,” Abshire said.
Reach Reporter Rob Ollikainen at [email protected]