The recent bitter temperatures have paid off for Lawrence, where part of a downtown city park was flooded this week to create a pop-up skating rink.
But cool your jets. There’s no skating yet. Just waiting.
The ice is forming at the northwest corner of Buford M. Watson, Jr. Park, at 6th and Kentucky Streets.
Lawrence Parks and Recreation officials had thought it would be ready for skating today. But temperatures that climbed out of Arctic levels have slowed things down.
They now hope to have the rink ready by Sunday, with ice at least three to four inches thick for safe skating. Right now, the ice is only about an inch-and-a-half thick, parks officials said.
The last time it was cold enough to make the rink was in 2010, said the department’s director, Derek Rogers.
The years-long tradition of the temporary rink “is uniquely Lawrence,” he said. “It’s like an eclipse, it’s something that doesn’t happen very often but when it does it brings the community closer together.
“Parks are meant to bring people together and this tradition in Watson Park does just that.”
At least five days of temperatures in the 20s or colder were needed in the past to make the rink, Rogers said.
So on Sunday, when the 10-day forecast showed highs in the 20s, he decided to flood the park. It’s his first time doing it as the department’s new director.
Since Tuesday, when the city’s water department hooked up a hose to a hydrant and sent a river of water gushing over the park grass, people have been stopping by to check on the ice.
Is it ready? Is it ready?
“It’s kind of like watching grass grow,” Rogers said.
At its deepest spot, Rogers said, the rink is only 18 inches deep. “That’s the beauty of it,” he said.
Until the ice has hardened to that desired safe thickness, warning signs are in place cautioning people to stay off and it’s important that they do, Rogers said.
People using the ice now could cause cracks, ruts and other problems that would make it unsafe for skaters. “We definitely don’t want people to go out on the ice or step on the ice,” he said.
The skating, which will be free, will commence once the caution signs are removed.
The rink is strictly BYOS - Bring Your Own Skates.
There won’t be a monitor around so it’s BYOCS, too - Bring Your Own Common Sense.
Rogers recommended that people skate during daylight hours.
Once the ice is deemed safe for skating, he expects it to be usable until next Thursday.