Golden Valley’s Outdoor Skating Rinks Are Point of Pride
Winter technically began on Dec. 21. But as any skating enthusiast — or hockey aficionado — can attest, in Minnesota, the season doesn’t really kick off until the outdoor skating rinks open.
“We’re just skating around until my legs can’t take it anymore,” said Mike Cielinski, a resident of Florida who was visiting family in Golden Valley. “I’ve been skating since I was five years old. I still love it, even though I can’t do it as well as I did 15 years ago.”
While Cielinski’s in town, he felt compelled to check out the rinks at Golden Valley’s Wesley Park, which opened the day after Christmas.
“They’re beautiful,” he said. “They’re absolutely gorgeous. I mean, they do a great job.”
Getting the ice up and running — not to mention, looking this smooth — takes a small village of public works employees.
“Streets, parks, utilities, all help in building these outdoor rink systems,” said Al Lundstrom, Golden Valley’s park maintenance superintendent. “From bringing water to them from the utility department, to the street department that helps us with the bases, to the park department. You name it, we all put a part into it.”
The recent blast of cold air allowed Golden Valley staff members to get rinks at ten different locations scattered throughout the city ready to go.
“Yup, we went like gangbusters,” Lundstrom said. “When it gets cold, we go like crazy to put down as much water as we can.”
It’s a lot of hard work for something that will only last about two months, but the neighborhood kids certainly appreciate it.
“It’s nice cause we live right around here, so it doesn’t take long to get here,” said Chloe Voyen of Golden Valley, who went skating with her brother. “And yeah, they’re pretty smooth and they’re not like bumpy or anything, so it’s fun to skate on.”
And when the crews see kids like Voyen enjoying the ice time, that’s when they realize just how much their work matters.
“Oh yeah, I can’t tell you how worth it, it is,” Lundstrom said. “I’m a hockey player. My kids enjoyed outdoor rinks, getting outside. The number of people that use this actually increased during COVID. We loved seeing that.”
After all, in Minnesota, you can’t stay cooped up all winter.
“You’ve got four months of cold weather,” said Cielinski. “You’ve got to encourage people to get out.”
The Golden Valley rinks will likely remain open through President’s Day on Feb. 20. Weather will dictate whether they can stay open past that date.