McALESTER, Okla. — A synthetic ice rink will soon return to bring holiday cheer to all of those far and near.
The McAlester Community Ice Rink is set to open on Dec. 5 at the Farmer’s Market on the corner of East Choctaw Avenue and South Main Street. McAlester Tourism Coordinator Eddie Gray said the holiday feature helps local organizations make some money and he enjoyed seeing the community come together to enjoy the rink in its inaugural season last year.
“We had the best community outpour,” Gray said. “The city did the Christmas decorating and then we had the ice rink and it was the most attended Christmas parade we’ve ever had and that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to up the date to coincide with the parade.
“It was a Hallmark moment,” Gray said of last year.
City officials bought a portable ice rink that measures 38 feet by 52 feet last year from the city of Pauls Valley for $20,000. The rink is made of synthetic ice, a solid polymer that officials said is like skating on real ice.
Purchase of a synthetic ice rink was in progress for a few years before city officials discussed the potential acquisition with Pauls Valley.
Gray said officials learned from last year when more people skate and other ways to make the rink available to schools and organizations.
The rink will be open from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 5-6, noon to 9 p.m. on Dec. 7, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 8 before being closed Dec. 9-12.
Hours for the rink are 4-9 p.m. on Dec. 13, noon to 9 p.m. on Dec. 14, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 15.
The rink will be open 5-9 p.m. Dec. 16-19, 1-9 p.m. on Dec. 20, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 21.
Santa and live reindeer will also be available for anyone to take photos on Dec. 21.
Rink hours will be from noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 22, noon to 9 p.m. Dec. 23, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 24 before being closed for Christmas day.
The rink will be open 1-9 p.m. Dec. 26-27, noon to 9 p.m. Dec. 28 and noon to 8 p.m. Dec. 29.
Skating fees are set at $5 for adults, $3 for students and seniors, and $2 for children 12 years and younger for 30 minutes of skating.
Proceeds from skater fees will directly to the organization staffing the rink during the assigned shifts.
Nonprofit organizations, school booster clubs, church groups, and more can apply to staff the rink and get some money from the event. Organizations will be drawn fairly for shifts and can staff the rink multiple shifts and days.
Slots are still available for organizations to staff the ice rink. Interested groups can contact Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org or McAlester Tourism Manager Billy Sumner at email@example.com. Anyone interested in setting up a food truck during skating hours can also contact the tourism department.
“Anybody that wants to make a little extra money for their organization just be in touch with me,” Gray said. “They can tell me they’re interested and I’ll send them an application. That’s all there is to it and we have 31 shifts to fill.”
O'Hanlon is the news editor for McAlester News Capital, a CNHI News Service publication.