After a little more than three weeks of work, the new ice rink at Centennial Park debuted for a couple of hours Saturday morning.
“It was pretty great,” said Jon Fritz, president of Chaffee County Amateur Hockey Association. “There was a great turnout, including lots of people we didn’t know.”
Fritz estimated 50 people got out and enjoyed the ice, which was open from about 8-10 a.m.
“It was one of the happiest mornings of my life,” said Alan Brown, who put in multiple overnight shifts making ice in the rink. “We worked hard at it, made our deadline, had a great skate, proved what we can do, and now we’re focused on next year.”
Brown said kids and adults, grandparents and grandkids were all skating in the new rink.
“The most impressive thing is what a diverse group it was,” Brown said. “It was a beautiful scene; people were thrilled.”
The rink is now closed, but it could reopen if the weather cooperates. Fritz said there won’t be a massive effort to open it back up this winter as the group eyes the future.
Fritz said they need three things to have a successful rink: level ground, water and shade. Since the shade structures Alamosa donated to the association are frozen in the ground, Salida has two of the three needed items. Next year it will have the third, which will help make the ice more predictable and extend its season considerably.
“We developed a ton of momentum for the future,” Brown said. “The project this winter was modified and rushed as a test, and it passed that test (Saturday) with flying colors.”
In addition to completing the rink with a shade structure, lights and boards, the association plans to develop programming and fund raise for next year.
“This year’s goal was to get a few times out (on the ice) for the public to see the vision,” Fritz said. “We got some interest, and it’s important to recognize what we’re working on.”
People can follow the latest progress at Facebook.com/ChaffeeCountyIceRink.