Rink to open Friday, Dec. 1
By Terry Duffy
Driving down Center Street from Academy Park toward the river, you've probably noticed it already.
The holiday season is underway. It opened today with Small Business Saturday and merchants throughout the River Region are now in the holiday spirit.
The annual Lewiston Christmas Walk and Tour of Homes happenings are on for next weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2 and 3. Christmas swags and bows adorn fences along Center Street; holiday lights of local businesses are again lit and at Academy Park the warming house tent is up with the rink assembly, freezing unit and related mechanicals are all coming together for next weekend's celebrations.
Come Friday, Dec. 1, the lighting of the Village of Lewiston Christmas tree will again brighten Hennepin Park, while up the street at Academy, the Lewiston Family Ice Rink will officially open for the holiday season with village and town officials anticipated at both events.
Special Christmas Walk operating hours next weekend for the rink are 4 to 7 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
"The Town of Lewiston is proud to announce the return of the popular Lewiston Family Ice Rink on Dec. 2," said Mike Dashineau, director of Parks and Recreation. "The rink is a massive undertaking, as we transform Academy Park into a winter wonderland."
Dashineau reports that plans call for the rink to be open throughout the holiday season. Regular operating hours will be from 4-8 p.m. Monday though Thursday; 4-10 p.m. on Friday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Special operating hours this month include noon to 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8 - a designated day off for Lewiston-Porter students; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Sunday Dec. 24; and the rink will be closed on Christmas Day, Monday Dec. 25.
During the Christmas week break, special operating hours will be noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 26; noon to 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 29; and noon to 8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.
On New Year's Eve the rink will host its annual New Year's Eve celebration with hours to run from noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 31.
A special kids countdown and balloon drop for the younger set will go from 6 to 8 p.m. that evening, with the rink to remain open to 10 p.m.
"For those kids who can't quite make it to midnight, we create midnight for them, a few hours early," said Dashineau.
He reports that kids will be treated to free noisemakers, party hats, and other fun activities to help bring in the New Year. The event will include face painters, balloon twisters, and other surprises for the kids to do along with ice skating. Skating is not required to attend the celebration, but inside space will be limited to the capacity of tent.
The countdown to 8 p.m. will end with a massive balloon and confetti drop along with a sparkling juice toast.
Dashineau cautions parents the celebrations could become a little noisy for younger children.
"The 8 p.m. balloon drop will also have a few small explosions as confetti cannons are 'popped.' Kids will also have small 'party poppers' to help celebrate that carry with them a very small explosion," he said. "This may be unsettling for some of our youngest guests. If your child is easily startled, but wants to enjoy the drop, a good way to combat this noise is by using headphones."
Rink officials add that due to anticipated crowds, visitors should try to arrive early and bring as little as possible to the event. Strollers and carts are not suggested.
But having fun is. This is where visitors will be able to experience what Dashineau calls "the complete holiday experience."
Skate rentals will again be available at $5 per person, with actual skating offered at no charge; the warming house will have hot chocolate coffee and snacks available for purchase and food vendors are expected on site for select weekends.
At this writing the rink is expected to again offer such popular youth programs as age 8 and under neighborhood hockey; the Skate with Santa Christmas party (date to be announced); and additional programs extending into January.