Building the Rink

Main Street Square staff begin to build the ice skating rink at the end of October and beginning of November.

A refrigeration system is parked in the alley on a trailer, and a hole is dug across the center of the rink. Styrofoam is used to level the fountain area.

Glycol matting is then unrolled into strips across the lawn and fountain area. Staff connect the matting to headers in the hole in the center of the lawn. The refrigeration system, hooked up in Pedestrian Alley, then pumps glycerol underground, through the headers and into the matting.

Staff assemble the glass dasher boards, and lay down mats so that ice skates do not damage the brick walkways.

After all the equipment has been assembled, water from a regular garden hose is sprayed onto the matting, which freezes the water into ice. Staff work around the clock to apply layers of water until the ice is thick enough and solid enough for ice skating.

Since the matting freezes the ice from below, when the sun hits the ice just right in November and February, the ice has a tendency to melt, forcing staff to close the rink for safety reasons. Usually the rink can reopen when the sun sinks below the Hotel Alex Johnson.

When ice skating is over for the season, a simple flip of the switch on the refrigeration system begins the process of melting. Main Street Square then lets the sun do the hard work of melting the ice. Staff pick up the rubber mats from the walkways, and take down the glass dasher boards when the ice is melted enough. The gycol matting is dried out, rolled up for the next year, and the turf is layed in the center of the lawn.