BENTONVILLE -- Cold temperatures and cloudy skies didn't keep skaters away from The Rink at Lawrence Plaza Wednesday. Well, at least not all the skaters.
Friends Thomas Hodges and Taylor DuVrey were two of the seven skaters gliding around the outdoor rink just before 1 p.m. The temperature was 21 degrees; the sky a cloudy gray.
Lawrence Plaza is located at the corner of Northeast A and Blake streets in Bentonville. The Rink opened in 2010 and is in its seventh season. The plaza is transformed into a splash pad during the summer.
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"I used to live in Colorado for three years so I'm used to cold weather," Hodges said.
The two, both in eighth grade, said skating was something to do during the holiday school break.
"It's a nice place to be and have fun," Hodges said.
It was only 20 minutes later that the number of skaters increased nearly five-and-a half times to 38, which was still a slow start compared to other days this season, Parks and Recreation employees working the desk said.
There's been more than 9,500 visits to the ice rink this season since it opened Nov. 18, said Danny Bartlett, recreation supervisor. That's about 500 more patrons than at this point last season.
It was 7-year-old Paige Doherty's first time to skate Wednesday.
"It was awesome," she said enthusiastically, half buried in puffs of her winter coat and red scarf wrapped over it.
"First time for both of us," her aunt Carol Mailes added with a smile. "I told her, 'you fall down, you're on your own.'"
Doherty, who lives in Miami, Okla., is staying with Mailes, who lives in Neosho, Mo., for a few days for the holidays. The Rink was the closest rink for them to ice skate. The cold temperatures weren't an issue.
"I would much rather be outdoors than indoors," Mailes said, adding her hands were the only part of her cold and that she should have brought thicker gloves.
The Rink had a record-setting attendance last year with nearly 12,700 skaters and only closed three times because of inclement or unseasonably warm weather.
There have been two days so far this season where warm weather melted the ice causing the rink to close, according to Bartlett.
"Our crews have worked very hard on the warmer days (higher than 50 degrees) to ensure ice is rebuilt each night," Bartlett said.
The Rink was closed nine days in the 2015-16 season as unseasonably warm weather made it nearly impossible to keep the ice frozen. Many of those days happened when schools were out for winter break, which is typically The Rink's busiest time.
The National Weather forecasts Bentonville will be mostly sunny and hit a high of 36 degrees today and 40 degrees Friday before dropping back into the 20s this weekend. The weekend forecast includes a 20 percent chance of light snow Saturday night into Sunday.
The Rink's hours were extended from noon to 9:30 p.m. this week. It will resume its normal hours next week with sessions starting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Earlier sessions are held on the weekends.
Those who want an indoor ice skating experience can take advantage of Skatemas Break at The Jones Center in Springdale where the rink is open for all-day public skating sessions between Christmas and New Year's Eve.
This is the second year for The Jones Center to hold the event. Public skate sessions from noon to 8 p.m. began Tuesday and will conclude Friday. The cost to skate this week is $3.
There were about 500 skaters Tuesday, according to Hunter Rogers, guest services manager at The Jones Center. Total skaters last year tallied nearly 2,000.
"We got a quarter of that yesterday, which will probably be our slowest day," he said since it was the first day after Christmas.
The center will draw for door prizes at 2:30 p.m. and show a free movie in the theater at 3 p.m. each daily.
Public skates sessions are usually from noon to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 3:45 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays with some Friday and Saturday sessions available when there aren't scheduling conflicts. A public session typically costs $7 per person with skate rental or $5 if personal skates are used.
NW News on 12/28/2017
Print Headline: Ice rink popular despite cold