By Keith Thorpe
Olympic Peninsula News Group
Call it holiday on ice without the actual holiday.
A springtime version of the Port Angeles Winter Ice Village opens today for a month of ice skating on a temporary rink set up in a public parking lot in the 100 block of West Front Street.
The rink is scheduled to operate daily through April 18.
Unlike two previous editions of skating that took place over the Thanksgiving to Christmas holiday season, this skate season was delayed until the beginning of spring because of worries about the spread of COVID-19.
Marc Abshire, executive director of the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, which is hosting the event, said his group wanted to compensate for the cancellation of holiday skating.
“This is to make up for the loss of this last season,” he said.
The rink and tent covering and snack shack still will be there, but this year’s village will forego holiday lighting and Christmas themes, Abshire said.
The only nod to a holiday will be peanut butter and chocolate eggs at the concession stand in honor of Easter, which is April 4.
Health department guidance limits skaters to 75 at a time on the ice. That number may go up, but Abshire said it’s not guaranteed.
During the 2019-20 skating season, sometimes as many as 125 skaters were on the ice, with the potential for up to 150.
“I think we’re going to be fine as far as the limits go,” Abshire said. “I think there’s still going to be great skating.”
In order to discourage big crowds during peak times, discounts will be given for morning sessions, Abshire said.
Fees will be $5 for morning skating from 9 a.m. to noon. Afternoons between 12:30 – 3 p.m. will be $10.
Evening sessions are scheduled from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will cost $10 per person on Monday through Thursday, and $15 per person on Friday through Sunday. Those sessions will be $15 during spring break — April 5-9.
Youths and adults will pay the same fee, with a minimum age of 3.
“It’s a new structure in pricing that we had to do because of COVID,” Abshire said. “It’s to try to incentivize fewer people during popular times and more people during less-popular times.”
Reservations are available, but not required, although drop-in space may be limited.
Ice time can be reserved at https://wintericevillage.org/make-a-reservation.
The 2019-20 skating season almost came to an abrupt end when as much as 2 feet of heavy, wet snow collapsed the tent on Jan. 19, 2020 — the week before the scheduled closing day.
The destroyed tent, which was on loan from 7 Cedars Casino, was removed, and the ice was rehabilitated enough to allow the skating season to end under open air.
For this year, the chamber purchased its own tent, Abshire said. The ice rink and support equipment is being rented from Harbor City, Calif.-based Ice-America.
Holiday season skating is planned to resume for the regular 2021-22 season.
With luck, the winter weather won’t disrupt holiday skating as it did in 2020, Abshire said.
“That was an overnight event, and there was essentially no one here to really monitor that,” he said. “What we did learn is you don’t just listen to the forecast.”
Leslie Robertson, events manager for the chamber of commerce, said she was happy to be able to bring the ice back to Port Angeles, particularly during a time when there is a sparse calendar of other events.
“The season is a lot shorter, so it will be different,” she said. “But it’s when the community needs something so desperately, and I think this is happening at a perfect time. I’m so glad we’re able to do it. So glad.”
Photojournalist Keith Thorpe can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 59050, or at [email protected]