Rink rats, rejoice. They’re open.
“I stopped by one of the rinks yesterday [Monday, December 12] and it’s pretty close. They maybe need another round or two of flooding, which they’ll get this week,” reported Ben Boldt, recreation supervisor for Rochester’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Skating will come sooner than warming huts, though, which open on December 26.
Most of the city’s rinks are dedicated to hockey, and the most intense games go down at Graham Park and Withers. There are two rinks at each of those locations and Withers even sees sporadic broomball action throughout the winter. Though where there’s a hockey rink, the city tries to also flood a smaller one for those who want to avoid sticks and pucks.
The city’s marquee rink is still the Soldier’s Field ice track, which is reserved just for pleasure skating. On Saturday, January 28, as part of Winterfest, the parks department will be there with skates to rent and temporary warming huts to sit in. In future winters, they may expand that program. Check for updates on the Rec division’s social media accounts and its website.
Flooding crews come out late at night or early in the morning, when temperatures are colder and the sun isn’t providing competition. It takes several layers of flooding to get a rink skate ready.
“Soldier’s Field is even a little more labor intensive because we put a layer of white in the ice, so we don’t lose as much ice with the black track showing in the sun. It’s a daily thing that there’s a crew that goes and does that flooding,” said Boldt.
As with ski hills, the water is returned to the ground. The rinks are on a mixture of grass and gravel, so the water gets absorbed and helps the grass get going in the spring.