ashland.news
July 14, 2024

Ice rink returns to bring frozen fun to Ashland

The Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink is open during the winter season in Lithia Park. Photo by Denise Baratta for the Rogue Valley Times
November 26, 2023

‘First Frost’ event, featuring figure skaters, set for Dec. 16

By James Sloan, Rogue Valley Times

Rotating around Ashland’s outdoor ice rink off Lithia Park, visitors of all ages and skill levels from around the region enjoyed their second weekend of icy amusement.

The Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink opened Nov. 18 for the winter season, drawing in locals and visitors from as far as the Portland area.

“We always go to the Bay Area or Sacramento for Thanksgiving and we make a point of stopping in Ashland on the way back, because we love the holiday spirit here,” said Aaron Cooley of Lake Oswego, attending with wife Whitney Cooley and 8-year-old Beatrix Cooley. “Hitting the ice rink is one of their favorite parts.”

“It’s my fifth time,” Beatrix Cooley said of how many times she’s ice skated before. “I like all of it.”

Visiting from Eugene, mother Kate Workman and son Lucas Workman were excited to get in on the frozen fun.

“I’m excited,” Lucas Workman said, adding, “It’s my first time and I want to learn how to ice skate.”

The 6-year-old was self-assured in his skating skills.

Skaters smile as they traverse the ice Saturday in Lithia Park in Ashland. Photo by Denise Baratta for the Rogue Valley Times

“He’s pretty confident about it, so we’ll see,” Kate Workman said.

“I told him he’ll probably fall,” Kate Workman added, receiving a “no I won’t” response from her 6 year old.

A variety of programs are offered at various times at the rink. During the “cheap skates” time period, rental skates are discounted. “Frozen tots” is designed for slow-paced experience for novice skaters. The brand-new “sensory friendly skate” is for participants seeking a quieter, calmer experience with rink staff managing a safe environment for skaters experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Ashland resident Tiffany Allen was enjoying the ice with her friends.

“We love ice skating and it’s the most beautiful place to be outside and get some rink time,” Allen said. “It’s cheap and easy fun.”

“My family grew up in Canada and are very good ice skaters,” Allen added.

Allen said the best time to hit the rink is early in the morning when the ice is firm.

“We’re out here normally in the morning when the ice is the hardest,” she said.

Ice rink manager Kailey Herrick has been happy with the skater turnout so far.

The deets
Admission costs $5 for adults and $4 for kids ages 6-13, with skate rentals costing $3 a pair. Children under 5 years of age get in for free.
The ice rink is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day, offering recreational skate times, adult hockey, stick and puck, “cheap skates,” frozen tots and the newly added sensory friendly skate.
For more information on skate session times, programs and hours, click here.

“It’s been pretty steady, it hasn’t been as busy as it’s going to get later in the season, especially during the holiday break for Christmas, but it’s been very steady with a lot of people for most of the sessions,” Herrick said. “Friday nights can get a little bit busier than other weekday nights, but definitely Saturday and Sunday will be our busiest sessions.”

With the occasional return of warm weather in November, the staff are hoping to keep the rink open as long as it’s safe to skate on.

“During the colder months it happens less, but it is always a consideration with an outdoor rink like this that we kind of just have to play it by ear every day and see what the ice is like,” Herrick said.

Compared to other ice rinks in the Rogue Valley and Southern Oregon area, the manager has been happy to hear positive feedback on the Ashland rink’s prices.

“The main feedback we’ve been getting from people is that they’re really happy about the price, that it allows them to bring the whole family because usually ice rinks are so expensive,” Herrick said. “This one is more affordable and entire families can go that usually wouldn’t be able to.”

The Ashland Rotary Centennial Ice Rink opens from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays for adult hockey, then 10 to 11:30 a.m. for a stick and puck session, then noon to 2:30 p.m. for frozen tots and ending with recreational skating from 2:30 to 9 p.m.

For the schedule for Mondays through Fridays and to check for potential closures due to warm weather, go to ashland.or.us/Page.asp?NavID=14057.

The annual First Frost Community Skating Event is set for 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16. Billed as “a special night to enjoy ice skating fun with friends and loved ones in beautiful Lithia Park,” the evening’s program kicks off with figure skating performances from local skaters, including members of the Southern Oregon Figure Skating Association.

Reach reporter James Sloan at jsloan@rv-times.com. This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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