Oak Creek Ice Rink opens today | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek Ice Rink opens today

Santa Claus will skate at community party Sunday

Melinda Dudley

After two weeks of ice-making, the Oak Creek Ice Rink welcomes skaters and hockey players for an after-school kickoff party this afternoon.

“Since South Routt schools have early release Friday, we’re inviting them all over to come skate,” rink Manager Tami Thurston said.

Oak Creek Hockey Association teams will begin their practices on the ice after the kickoff party, and the season’s first adult drop-in hockey session will follow at 8:30 p.m. The popular pick-up games will continue through the season on Friday nights.

“Hockey’s such a big sport in all of Routt County,” Thurston said. “A lot of the locals get involved, and a lot of people drive up from Steamboat and do it, too.”

The Oak Creek Ice Rink also will host a community holiday party – Skate With Santa – from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday.

Santa Claus himself will be on the ice, making his appearance at 2:30 p.m., Thurston said. After a few spins across the rink, Santa will make his way to the warming hut to visit with children.

Regularly scheduled public skate times for the winter will be 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday, and 2 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The warming hut will be open during all public skate times, and the Oak Creek Ice Rink has plenty of figure skates available for rental. The Howelsen Ice Arena donated all of its old rental skates to Oak Creek’s rink last year, Thurston said.

The Oak Creek Hockey Association and the Oak Creek Town Board have yet to finalize an operating agreement for winter operations and maintenance at the rink. Although the rink is owned by the town, the hockey association – who hired Thurston – has been its de facto operator.

The Town Board held off on approving an agreement at its meeting last week in part because of trustee criticisms that the scheduled public skate times were insufficient.

“There are no provisions for working people and tax-paying residents to have public skating on weeknights,” Trustee Dave Fisher said last week.

Hockey teams begin practices at 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday and do not end until about 9 p.m., hockey association Vice President Andy Fox said at the Dec. 11 meeting.

“There’s some balance we’ve got to find that works for you and works for the town,” Trustee Wendy Gustafson said.

The Town Board asked the hockey association to take another look at the schedule and see whether it can fit in two nighttime public skating sessions and whether it will reconsider an amended agreement at its Jan. 8 meeting. Shared responsibility for rooftop snow removal at the rink also was discussed.

To help cover operating costs, the rink is making an effort to sell available ice time this season. Teams from outside South Routt, where ice time often is fully booked, can schedule extra practices at the Oak Creek Ice Rink, and the facility can be rented for special events. For rates and information, call the rink manager at 819-8568.

– To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

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