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The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
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Ice, ice baby! Ahrens park ice rink welcomes its first skaters

Grinnell’s new ice rink has been a hit with residents, but too much snow can actually close the rink. Photo by Kaya Matsuura.

For the rest of the winter season, Ahrens Memorial Park will be welcoming visitors to its newest attraction: a public ice rink. Although delays pushed the initial opening of the rink to Jan. 28, residents were still eager to dust off their skates and hit the ice.   

Grinnell’s new outdoor rink was made possible through the Community Ice Rinks Program, a joint endeavor sponsored by the Iowa Wild, a Des Moines hockey team, and Wells Fargo. Last fall, the pair reached out to Grinnell and the Department of Parks and Recreation asking if they would be interested in joining the program.  

According to Jordan AllsupGrinnell Parks and Recreation Director, the program reached out to Grinnell because they wanted to expand outside of their typical Des Moines metro limits. Although the Iowa Wild and Wells Fargo had been distributing rinks for the last few years, they’d stuck mostly to central Iowa. “We thought it would be a good idea for the community,” said Allsup.  

One of the city’s first tasks was to determine where to accommodate a new rink. Past rinks had been located in Central Park and behind the Darby Gymnasium. After receiving approval from the Grinnell Parks and Recreation Board, the Parks and Recreations Department scouted for a location and landed on Ahrens Park.   

“We approached Ahrens Park knowing that they had a space specific for an ice rink when the park was built and so we thought it was a great fit,” Allsup said, “We have had [ice rinks] in the past, about five or six years ago, and they were pretty well received.”   

After months of quarantine and closures, residents of all ages were eager to get back outside and give the new rink a go. For Dylan Anderson, 8, and Jenna Anderson, 12, trial and error marked their Wednesday evening on the ice.  

While learning how to skate can be a daunting task, their mother Angela Anderson was excited to have the family out on the ice. “It’s been around five years since Grinnell has had an ice rink,” she said. “It’s nice to be back ice skating.”    

We thought it would be a good idea for the community. – Jordan Allsup   

The Anderson family had so much fun their first time out, they’ve now visited the new rink twice since it opened last week. Angela Anderson is using Ahrens Park’s newest attraction as an opportunity to teach her children how to skate and has been taking to the ice with them. “I am surprised I still have it in me!” she chuckled.  

The Ahrens Park ice rink was announced to the public on Dec. 15, near the height of Iowa and Poweshiek County’s COVID infection numbers. Two months later, a full roll-out for a vaccine is on the horizon, but Iowa still lags behind most of the country when it comes to vaccine coverage.  

Despite the presence of the pandemic, Allsup says that the ice rink is “a decently safe activity with it being outdoors.” But, he added, users should still remain aware of state and local guidelines in order to keep everyone safe. General rules for the rink can be found on the City of Grinnell’s website 

After Allsup’s interview with The S&B, Iowa governor Kim Reynolds announced that she planned to repeal the state-wide mask mandate she ordered two months ago.  

Positivity rates have been dropping for Poweshiek County according to the county’s Public Health Facebook page, lowering from a rate of 5.8 percent to 4.5 percent during the last 14-day period. The CDC currently recommends wearing a mask when within 6 feet of those outside of the people you live with even when outdoors.    

Students at Grinnell College have also been excited to get out to Ahrens Park, but with the rink having a bring-your-own skates system, many have been wondering how to take advantage of it.   

In response, Tim Hammond, the associate men’s & women’s swim coach, natatorium coordinator and director of intramurals, announced via email that Bikes to You, located just off Broad St., will be offering skate rentals to anyone who is interested. Employees of the College and approved students can have the costs covered through the Intramural Sports Program.   

The Grinnell Community Ice Rink is located off 8th Ave. on Penrose St. at Ahrens Memorial Park, approximately at 1330 Penrose St. Hours range from dawn to noon for hockey, and noon to dusk for general skating during the winter season. To know if the rink is ready for action, when approaching from Penrose St., look for a metal sign. A green sign indicates the rink is open and red signifies that the rink is closed.  

“We post on our social media account whenever [the hours] change,” Allsup said. “Otherwise, you know, you just drive by and look for the sign!”  

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    Cathy MenningaFeb 11, 2021 at 11:45 am

    Great article! I also like your staff writer description, funny! Looking forward to reading more from you.