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Posts tagged: Ice Palace

The first skater at the Ice Palace was…

…a retired nurse who lives on the South Hill. His name is Gary.

I could have claimed the honor for myself, as I have on more than a few opening days. But Gary was there a few minutes ahead of me. And besides, he seems like a good guy. So I waved him ahead.

We were the only two skaters as the 2014-15 Ice Palace season got underway this morning at 11.

The ice was about what you would expect at an open-air rink with temperatures as warm as they are right now. Which is to say, not good.

But the fact that the folks at Riverfront Park managed to create any kind of skating surface this month is pretty remarkable. Hats off to them.

At one point, as I was gliding near one of the corners, I heard cracking and looked down to observe fissure lines like you see when a auto-windshield star grows long spider legs before your eyes.

If I had been on a lake in winter, I would have been worried. But at the Ice Palace, my harrowing plunge would have been about an inch at most.

Walking back to the paper, I vocalized my Burgess Meredith “Penguin” impression for the benefit of some waterfowl in the river. And I thought about how Expo '74 was wrapping up exactly 40 years ago.

As I often do, I felt an urge to thank all those who made that park a part of downtown Spokane.    

This year’s Ice Palace season passes

In case you are wondering, they are Carolina blue.

The folks at the Riverfront Park offices told me they expect to open the skating season tomorrow.

Ice Palace opening delayed

The new target date for opening is Oct. 29.

The folks at Riverfront Park had planned to start the ice rink's season on Oct. 22. But it has been too warm to establish a decent sheet of ice at the open air facility.

Ice Palace season goes out with bang

March coming in like a lion was perfect in at least one regard.

Snow and cold made for a classic ice-skating backdrop as the Ice Palace at Riverfront Park wrapped up its season today.

The ice at the open-air rink is kept cold by artificial means. And some years, on the last weekend, it's all the chilling technology can do to keep the rink from turning into a shallow pond. But not this year. Today they could have shut off the power and the skating surface would have maintained integrity.

If you are one of those people who hate everything about winter, I feel sorry for you. Perhaps you should move.

Spring will be here soon enough. But today, Riverfront Park quietly celebrated the one season that overlaps the years.

All skate

So I was first on as the Ice Palace opened its skating season this morning.

I wasn't actually the first to lace up. But my fellow lunchtime skaters seem to realize that being first on the ice is sort of a thing with me. So I was waved ahead.

People can be pretty nice. Perhaps you have noticed.

There have been a few ice-making setbacks in the days leading to this morning's opening. Something to do with the refrigeration compressors. I don't know the whole story.

But the surface was a thing of beauty this morning. Shiny and new. “Come aboard….”

Skating was a pleasure.

I didn't stay long. TV news reportedly was on its way.

Before I left, one of my fellow regulars handed me a business card with an email address, RiverfrontMasterPlan@SpokaneCity.org

She said rumors are flying about the future of the Ice Palace.

I told I her I hoped people realized that an open-air ice rink in our downtown park is truly something special. Who would want to mess with that? Who would want to make Spokane more ordinary?

As I was heading back to the paper, I overheard an excited woman on a cell phone near the front of the library. She told someone, “She's contradicking herself.”

Let's hope the good people working on the Riverfront Park master plan don't do that to the Ice Palace.

I am a person of color

At least I am in the photo on my brand-new Ice Palace season pass.

Not sure how that happened.

But that's fine.

Still, if someone at Riverfront Park questions me about it, I am not sure what I'll say.

A time-honored seasonal exchange

Skating season at the Ice Palace doesn't begin until Wednesday.

But I walked over to Riverfront Park yesterday and took a look at the gleaming ice.

When the guy driving the resurfacing machine rolled by where I was standing, I initiated the obligatory exchange.

“Looking good.”

“Gettin' there.”

See you in October

There was a decent turnout for the season's last day of skating at Riverfront Park's Ice Palace yesterday. One tiny boy in hockey gear motored around in a steady, sure manner, making at least one onlooker wonder if he started skating while still sleeping in a crib. 

www.riverfrontpark.com

Gravity and Ice vs. Princess Mania

Maybe it was just a regular skating class.

But it could have been a birthday party. A water bottle on the benches side of the boards at the Ice Palace had a special label announcing that Miriam turns 4 today.

There were several little girls trying to skate there at Riverfront Park late this morning. And, judging from their pink, sparkly attire, it seemed as if most of them were in the grip of princess mania. Even the bike helmets they wore had pincessy themes.

Which is why ice skating was the perfect activity.

Now one has to be careful when using phrases such as “knock some sense into them” when discussing young children. But until a proven vaccination is developed, ice skating seems like a great way to address the princess outbreak.

In ice skating, you have to bring your own magic.

And if you don't, well, “DOWN GOES FRAZIER!”

Falling on ice is extremely reality-based, even if you aren't falling very far.

It focuses the mind in a way that no toy unicorn can match.

The little girls did, in fact, experience a few spills. But they always got up. And it was no wand or tiara that got them back on their feet. It was their own fortitude.

Some of those little princesses might be delusional, but apparently they're also pretty tough.

Bedlam

Walked over to Riverfront Park to purchase my Ice Palace season pass and go for a quick skate.

There were about 15,000 kids there, give or take a few.

Think squealing, laughing and kid-voice chortles. Did I mention squealing?

I'm always pleased to see the rink supported. But sharing the ice with erratic hordes of children doesn't lend itself to quiet contemplation and reverie.

Still, I laced 'em up and hopped on for a few minutes. Because it is so warm, the ice was tacky. But I got to see the colorful new curling circles. And there were other compensations.

“I haven't ice skated in years,” said a little girl to a friend who had the decency to not point out that the speaker had not been ALIVE for all that many years.

And then there was the classic wide-eyed expression of terror-skating kids teetering on the edge of falling 100 percent of the time.

On my way out, I saw another adult weekday regular from years past.

“Hello,” I said from just a few feet away. “Hello!”

She didn't hear me. Too much background noise.

On my way back to the paper, about a dozen geese flew low over me and elegantly slid into the river near the carrousel. Their water-landings couldn't have been smoother. Still, there was a soft whoosh and splash.

If by some remote chance you were involved in the creation of Riverfront Park, I want to say something to you.

Thanks. 

Ice Palace opening postponed a week

Instead of opening on Friday, Oct. 19, the downtown skating rink is to begin its season on Friday, Oct. 26.

The ice is artificially chilled, but the Ice Palace is an open-air facility and the ice-makers need cooler weather to do their thing. 

Going to the lake

The Ice Palace seemed like a true outdoor rink today.

An outdoor rink near the end of the skating season, that is.

Even though Riverfront Park's open-air ice surface is artificially chilled, the warm wind makes it all but impossible to keep it from turning into a bit of a pond.

You could still skate though. And a couple dozen of us did just that.

The guy who drives the ice resurfacing machine told me he had sucked up a phenomenal amount of water before the public skating session. But he admitted he was fighting a losing battle.

One hoodie-clad boy who looked to be about 13 fell in the middle of a wet patch and soaked up what seemed like gallons of frigid water. When he got up, he looked like he wanted his mother to magically appear and provide him with dry clothes.

If all the other kids had done that it might have mopped up a fair amount of the standing water. But I suppose I would have gotten dirty looks if I had suggested that.

(Expletive deleted) Toddler Tuesday

Many years ago, one of my SR colleagues was on the phone with an events promoter who complained that it was difficult to book acts into what was then called The Met because it seemed as if there was always “some kids puppet show” using the downtown theater.

Only he didn't say it quite like that. The actual version included a common vulgar intensifier. I'm sure I don't have to spell it out for you. It went right between “some” and “kids.”

My colleague and I found the juxtaposition of rough language and the image of an innocent activity to be sort of funny.

Anyway, I went over to Riverfront Park this morning. I might have been a little early for public skating. In any event, I found a children's group at the Ice Palace and they didn't show any signs of wrapping it up. So I headed back to work.

As I got near City Hall, I encountered another Ice Palace regular. I reported what I had encountered. And she knowingly said “Toddler Tuesday.”

So on my way back to the Review Tower, I came up with a plan.

If anyone asked me if I skated, I would say “No, it was #*$%@*# Toddler Tuesday.”

As it happens, no one asked. Which might be just as well.

Sometimes people don't realize when I am attempting to be amusing.   

A pocket full of posies

Walked over to the park to skate.  But I did a 180 when I saw the crowd of kids on the ice. Must have been some organized group.

If they resurfaced the ice before public skating, well, who's got that kind of time?

No problem. I want the Ice Palace to succeed, so I'm always pleased to see the place doing some business. I can go back another day.

Besides, I got to hear a tiny little girl near the rink imploring her parents to play “Ring Around the Rosie.”

The mom asked her how the song goes. And the little girl gave it a shot.

Her lyrics were a bit hard to understand. But hearing her effort made me glad I had walked over to the park.

Ice age

The ice was a little soft at the Riverfront Park rink this morning.

It was perfectly fine for skating. They do a good job at the Ice Palace. Someone who hasn't skated much wouldn't even notice. And with the weather we're having, it certainly was to be expected.

There are two schools of thought about whether soft ice makes skating easier, if not as efficient physics-wise. But I suspect it didn't seem soft to the kids who fell. And fall, several of them did.

It's a wonder anyone ever learns to ice skate, the joys of going down hard on an unyielding surface being limited as they are.

For young children, though, the falling distance isn't all that great. So most of them keep getting back up. (A few crawl off and never look back.)

I wanted to tell this one little boy (a repeat faller) that he really had guts. But it was apparent that he was concentrating and I didn't want to distract him.

Another ice age has arrived

www.spokaneriverfrontpark.com

So I walked over to Riverfront Park to purchase my 2011-12 Ice Palace pass. Opening day is tomorrow.

My picture on my pass this year looks as if it was taken during a disfiguring teleportation accident. But I'm looking forward to the season.

I don't think I can take a shot at being first on the ice tomorrow, as has been my off-and-on tradition. Got a lot to do Wednesday. But I will get over there soon and reacquaint myself with the fact that riding a bike doesn't totally prepare you for skating.

My former colleague Susan English introduced me to the Ice Palace more than 20 years ago. Her attitude was “Isn't it cool to have this right here in the midst of downtown?”

Yes. It is.

  

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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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