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Centennial Olympic Park’s ice rink to open this weekend

ice HS03 (Small)

The ice skating rink at Centennial Olympic Park is up, and the first batch of ice was made from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 8 a.m. Thursday. The rink opens Saturday. AJC photos by Hyosub Shin.

It’s mid-November and Atlanta is deep into winter holiday season. My newspaper was weighed down by toy ads, lights are going up on houses and chocolate is showing up at the office wrapped in green and red foil. Best of all, the ice rink at Centennial Olympic Park opens this weekend. Take that, 70 degrees and sunny!

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Roderick Byrd added water to the rink on Wednesday night.

It’s the rink’s 13th year in Centennial Olympic Park, but it has a new schedule this season: it will be open for limited hours on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and will stay open till Jan. 31, instead of closing down for holidays and just after the New Year’s Day.

It’s not a huge rink — 64 by 116 feet — and has 350 pairs of skates available for $2 rental.  (You can, of course, bring your own boots.) But as Rick Glueckert of Ice Guys LLC explained,the attraction is being able to skate amid high rises and lights with a view of the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium.

After 13 years, he said, they’ve seen families grow up on their ice.

Being Atlanta, though, the weather decides whether the rink stays open. To find out before you go, call the park hotline at 404-222-7275, check the Park Web site or follow them on Twitter, @centennial_park.

Everything’s looking chilly for this weekend.  Check out photos of the ice as it’s being made, and photos from last year’s skating season.

Here, Glueckert explains how they keep it col:

How do you make the ice? “We pump a second refrigerant through a piping system, 10 degrees above zero. We just lay water over that floor. When we’ve got a floor that is 10 degrees, anything we put on it freezes.”

How much ice? “We’ll have 3-and-a-half inches. We’ll continually maintain that level, depending on how many skaters come in. It’s all dependent upon the crowds. The resurfacing is done as needed. We lay water on the rink every night, a real good coat.”

How do you keep it smooth? “We’ve got a resurfacer. We’re on an elevated floor, so we couldn’t take the weight of a full-size Zamboni. We use a stage resurfacer – we’ve done ice at the Fox Theatre before, for “Nutcracker on Ice,” and this is what we used there.”

How do you keep it cold? “Fortunately, we’re covered. That is for two reasons – it keeps the rain off and it keeps the sun off. We make ice in Miami, and we don’t have that many issues as long as its covered. If we can keep it shaded, then we’re in good shape.”

How cold does it get for people who are skating? “You are on a sheet of ice. If you’re standing out there now, it’s cold. On a day like today, when you get moving, it’s sweater weather. This weekend is going to be in the high 60s – they’ll be out in their sweatshirts.”

What’s the worst kind of weather for the rink? “Forty mile per hour wind and rain blowing sideways. We’ve had seasons where we’ve never ever shuttered the doors. Last season, as you may recall, we had some horrible weather right during Christmas week, rain blowing sideways, high humidity. It was just nasty. Even though we’re under cover, people don’t want to walk from their car and skate soaking wet.”

Is Atlanta much of a skating town? “There’s a lot of transplanted northerners used to going out on frozen ponds. It’s becoming more of a skating town, only because of the Thrashers, the following of the minor league team in Gwinnett. There’s several indoor ice centers used for hockey and figure skating. This is strictly family fun public skating – everybody gets outside. They share the beauty of the park. With all the lights, it’s absolutely magnificent.”

Any advice for people hitting a rink for the first time? “Hold on to the rail.”

Want to go? Ice skating at Centennial Olympic Park. Daily, Nov. 14-Jan. 31.  Hours vary. $7 for 90 minutes of skating, $2 for skate rental. Discounts available. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Avenue West N.W., Atlanta. 404-222-7275, www.centennialpark.com.

For instant updates, follow @insideaccess on Twitter.

4 comments Add your comment

Dan G

December 27th, 2009
9:45 pm

Went to the ice rink today and though it is in a great location and interesting because it is outdoor skating in a climate not typically associated with ice, the actual skating experience is pretty awful. Without being able to properly resurface the ice, this rink is as bumpy as a gravel road in the mountains outside Ellijay. On top of that, it is tiny and really crowded. You can’t actually skate, so much as you can sort of step along with the crowd in a tight little circle. $7.00 per person is overpriced for such a poor ice experience. Alpharetta Cooler charges the same price for open skating and you get a real full size rink, and properly smooth ice. Another problem I have with the Centennial Park rink is that there is no discount for children…not even my 3 year old! I am disappointed I spent the money and waited in the hour long line to get in.

[...] skating at downtown Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park, a temporary rink, known for craggy ice and a family friendly atmosphere: $9 for 90 minutes and [...]

[...] Centennial Olympic Park’s outdoor skating season opened on Saturday, and we headed downtown for a mild, anachronism-filled evening on ice. There was a mean game of tag going on the grass near the ice. I strongly considered locking our bikes to the oversized holiday light deer decorations. At the entryway, rink operators  sold tickets, skate rentals and socks for the folks who arrived in sandals. [...]

Peechy

November 13th, 2009
11:26 pm

I lived in Georgia all my life & downtown Atlanta, for the past 8 years and I have never been ice skating. I want to go but none of my friends and family want to go. I don’t want to go fall down alone.
I do enjoy watching other people skate though.