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Outdoor ice rinks to be open next week

Hockey players and figure skaters, start sharpening your skates. Hastings' outdoor ice rinks are projected to be ready next week.

Barring another major snow storm, Hastings Parks and Recreation Director Barry Bernstein said the rinks will be ready for skaters Dec. 17.

Outdoor ice rinks can be used by the public free of charge. Most have warming houses, but two parks without warming houses are getting rinks this year: Tuttle and Cannon parks.

Parks that have outdoor rinks and warming houses are: Lake Isabel, Wilson, Lions, Pioneer, the Civic Arena, Kennedy and Wallin parks.

Hours vary between parks, and individual times are posted each park. Generally though, during the upcoming winter break, the hours are noon until 8 or 9 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday, and noon until 6 p.m. on Sunday.

On school nights, the times are shortened, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., but it's best to check your neighborhood park for posted times. They're also available on the city's Web site at

During open hours, the warming houses will be open at each park, an attendant will be on duty and the lights will be on. Residents can still use the rinks during off-hours, but the warming houses will be closed and the lights off.

Public skating times for the indoor ice at the Hastings Civic Arena vary and can be found on the city's Web site.

Outdoor ice hasn't been available in Hastings before Jan. 1 the last two years, so Bernstein is excited to be able to offer it to residents relatively early this year.

Ideal flooding temperatures for making outdoor ice is between 5 and 19 degrees. It usually takes between seven and 10 days to make an outdoor ice rink, but with a stretch of ideal conditions, that number is closer to seven days.

Ideal conditions definitely don't include falling snow. In Hastings, the same people who flood the rinks also drive the plows. Bernstein had hoped to begin flooding rinks sooner, but with all the snow the city received last week, the drivers had to clear the snow from the roads before they could get back to flooding rinks. Snow also had to be cleared off the rinks.

The water has to be "feathered" onto the rinks in small bursts, otherwise it creates air bubbles, and the city has to come in and break the air bubbles and re-flood the rink.

Once there's a good base of two to three inches of ice on the rinks, they can begin larger "belly dumps" of water.

Over the past week, residents may have noticed the 2,000-gallon water tanker flooding rinks in parks throughout the city. Four or more inches of ice is the ideal thickness the city's going for.

Bernstein wants to remind people that the ice rinks are available to rent for things like private parties and family get-togethers. The only cost is payment for the attendant who'd be on duty at the time.