Downtown Ice Skating In A Spring Like Heat

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Knoxville (WVLT) -- The temperatures were spring-like on Sunday, but one spot in Downtown Knoxville was still a chilly 8 degrees.

That spot was Market Square's "Holidays on Ice" skating rink, which kept it's cool in the afternoon warmth.

Jordan Porterfield and Keaton Mayle were among the many enjoying the winter tradition in spring like temperatures.

"I fell twice," Jordan said.

"I fell about twice too," said Keaton.

Both agreed the slick ice had something to do with their lack of balance.

"It was really slippery," Jordan said, "I couldn't walk on it!"

Warm weather certainly had nothing to do with a few slips and falls.

"If its sixty degrees outside right now, we can skate no matter what," said Kristi Reynolds from Holidays on Ice.

Her confidence that the ice will hold up in the heat comes from a behind the scenes knowledge of how the rink works.

"We've got a large compressor that is actually cooling the water that we've laid down for ice layers," she said. "Attached to that compression unit is glycol, which is basically a pink anti-freeze."

The glycol runs through a series of pipes underneath the ice rink which cool the 36 by 100 foot rink down to a chilly 5 degrees.

"So that anti-freeze is piping through everyone one of the coils, kind of like a snake,” Kristi said. “When you throw water to it, it naturally forms ice."

It works so well that it could be more than 90 degrees outside in downtown Knoxville and people would still be able to skate.

That fact has helped keep business gliding for the last two weeks.

So far more than 5,200 skaters have stepped on the ice.

And when it comes time to maintenance, they just clear rinks of skaters and go to work by adding water and scooping the ice shavings away.

"Typically we re-surface twice a day on long days," Kristi said. "It probably takes 10 to 15 minutes max and the ice is frozen solid."

That makes the business a slippery success for some and simply a fun past time for others.

You can lace up for Holidays on Ice through January 1st.

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