When the thermometer starts to dip and the snow practically piles up to your gutters, heading outdoors may be the last place any sane person would consider—other than skiers and CDOT workers.

But there’s one place in town where there’s enough hot cocoa and smiling faces to turn chilly air into hours packed with fun—the Longmont Ice Pavilion at Roosevelt Park.

Despite weather advisories and wind chill, the outdoor ice rink attracts a fair share of winter enthusiasts and blade lovers willing to brave the great outdoors. Nearly 40,000 skaters glide across the ice during the season—which runs from November to March, says Ice Pavilion manager, Mark Mann.

And during holiday breaks when kids leave thoughts of arithmetic and spelling tests far behind, plenty of families take advantage of ice rink offerings.

“During the whole week of Thanksgiving-we have vastly extended public skating hours,” says Mann.

People enjoy outdoor ice rinks for different reasons. Whether your family suffers from cabin fever and needs a change of scenery, or you want a new way to challenge your heart and lungs, a visit to the ice rink will fulfill either need.

The holidays certainly give people a few more reasons to dust off their skates. Especially with twinkling lights and holiday tunes playing in the background, Mann says the rink draws crowds in for nostalgic reasons.

20111204_LONGMONT_ICE_PAVILLION_2“Getting outside is a nostalgic allure during the holidays. People bring out their entire families,” says Mann. “It gives people the opportunity to enjoy the wintertime and get outside.”

Even with a high quotient for fun, outdoor rinks face their challenges too. Last November, vandals tossed sodium chloride onto the rink, something that delayed their opening, says Mann. 

But it would take more than a few bags of ice melt to thaw enthusiasm at this iconic rink that has a 13 year running history. The City installed cameras shortly after the incident to deter future hooligans from such costly pranks.

City Official, Dan Hill, said they spent roughly $10,000 for five cameras and the labor to install equipment.”

The Big and Small of It

From top to bottom, the ice stretches 165 feet long by 65 feet wide, which is just 25 percent smaller than regulation ice rinks, like the Colorado Avalanche rink at the Pepsi Center. Manny says those rinks are 200 feet by 85 feet.

Just for comparison’s sake, Southwest Rink at Skyline Park, an outdoor rink in Denver, is just 90 feet by 60 feet, according to a Downtown Denver Partnership spokesperson.

So it’s safe to say, with girth like that, Longmont can offer more than just a public skating venue for weekenders. Mann says learn-to-skate programs and hockey leagues for both youth and adults have grown in popularity over the years.

Adult hockey programs are designed with instructional skill development in mind; programs start at $62.50 for five sessions.

Recreational hockey leagues for kids attract up to 150 kids each season according to Mann. The programs run for 10 weeks beginning after the January 1. The cost is $185 and each player brings their own gear.

“We partner with Play It Again Sports to get gear on the cheap,” says Mann.

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Gearing Up

Whether you want new or used equipment, figure skates or hockey skates, Chris Martin, owner of the Play it Again Sports in Longmont says you can find great prices and plenty of selection at her store.

For about $15, she says you can find a pair of used hockey or figure skates, she says. As they outgrow equipment, she helps with that too.

“They can trade in their figure skates or hockey skates so customers can buy new equipment,” Martin says.

Just don’t wait until the last minute when the inventory is all picked over. Get your skates early.

Making Sports More Accessible

Many pricey sports programs leave Colorado families out in the cold – especially sports that involve ice. Ultimately, when families cannot afford sports, it leaves kids with fewer options to stay active while increasing feelings of exclusion.

That’s one reason why Martin says facilities like Longmont Ice Pavilion are such valuable resources to the community. From figure skating to hockey, Martin says facilities like these put sports programs in easier reach for families. 

“All sports are expensive but hockey is an even more expensive sport,” says Martin.  “This is an affordable way to see if kids want to play hockey. It lets kids try hockey and helps them decide if they want to eventually play at a more competitive level.”

Whether your child dreams of becoming an Olympic figure skater someday – or wants to learn to twirl like one, places like the Ice Pavilion in Longmont can give wings to those dreams. 

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Story by Elise Oberliesen
Photos provided by Longmont Ice Pavilion