If your holiday spirits need a lift, head over to the new ice ribbon at Riverfront Park. You don’t need to skate to enjoy this must-see attraction. It’s sure to become a draw for people throughout the region, and a place to take visitors.
When the concept was announced, it was controversial. Perhaps it will remain so. After all, it replaces the ice rink that was housed in the Pavilion for many years. But the charm and ingenuity of this new park feature is undeniable.
The ribbon, on the southwest edge of the park, is a slightly undulating 645-foot path that’s laid out like a lazy river. The path is connected to a circular pond for beginning skaters to work out the wobbles and build their courage. The entire ribbon is lined with handrails.
At the entrance are whimsical ice sculptures that appear to be irresistible to the kids posing on them.
Fire pits, heaters, tables and chairs are situated outside the ribbon, offering non-skaters a much better experience than the old bleachers. Grab a cocoa or coffee and watch the happy skaters zoom past.
A new building houses a bright concession area, with food and drinks, skate rentals and a ticket window.
At night, the ribbon is ablaze with colorful lights, adding to the festive atmosphere of the holiday in downtown Spokane.
The ribbon brings to life a corner of the park that had been quiet in the winter. At the old rink, skaters had to take a long trek in the dark. It could be a bit scary. Now they’re right across from the mall and City Hall. The facility feeds seamlessly into shopping, dining and other downtown experiences.
Skaters get a great view of the cityscape as they glide along.
Snowfall does present a challenge because the ribbon is uncovered and resurfacing machinery only works when there is less than 2 inches of snow. That means crews with shovels need to clear it, so skaters should be prepared to wait.
The city is planning for rollerskating, art walks and other activities once winter is over. It will be interesting to see whether maintenance becomes an issue in the offseason.
But, for now, the ice ribbon appears to be a hit.
The ribbon is the first major feature to open since the park shut down for construction. The upgraded Looff Carrousel facility will open in the spring. The new U.S. Pavilion is proving to be the most controversial part of the renovation, and it looks like people expecting a permanent cover will be disappointed.
But the hybrid plan the design team came up could assuage critics once it’s been completed. It’s a mixture of shelters and LED lighting that keeps the space open to river views.
Hopefully, it will have the “wow” factor of the ice ribbon and become another must-see feature at Riverfront Park.
To respond to this editorial online, go to www.spokesman.com and click on “Opinion.”
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