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HEADWATERS PARK ICE ARENA OPENS TO BIG CROWDS

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Most people know Headwaters Park as a place for outdoor summer events and festivals. ‑Indeed, from April through October, the park and festival center host over 30 events ranging from not-for-profit walks, receptions, family reunions, weddings, and about a dozen festivals.

This year, Headwaters ventured into new territory, sponsoring the first outdoor ice skating rink ever in downtown Fort Wayne. ‑On November 26, a ribbon was cut and the first skaters made their way onto the 60' by 120' sheet of ice that has brought a new complexion to the city. ‑In just six weeks of use, over 12,000 people, mostly children and families, have enjoyed the new rink.

Plans for a portable outdoor rink, supported by a refrigeration unit when temperatures rise above 32 degrees, was a part of the original Headwaters Park plan. ‑However, due to budget concerns, the plan had to be postponed until another financial source could be found. ‑In 2002, Council members Sam Talarico, John Crawford, and Rebecca Ravine pledged a portion of the 2003 local income tax dollars at their disposal, to purchase a portable unit that would be placed on the east festival plaza. Geoff Paddock is the Executive Director of the Headwaters Park Alliance. Mayor Graham Richard also supported the plan to place the rink in the same spot where large tents are normally seen in the summer. ‑When the skating season ends in March, the rink will be disassembled and stored until next November, so tents can come back for summer use.

In order to keep admission and skate rental fees low, grants were received from the Paul Clarke Fund of the Fort Wayne Community Foundation, UBS Financial Services, American Electric Power and National City Bank to help offset operational expenses. ‑Hence, a child under 18 years of age can skate all day for only $2. ‑Adults are charged just $4, and skate rental is only $2 for both children and adults. ‑You may bring your own skates. ‑There are heated restrooms, a heated changing room with a vending machine featuring hot drinks, and plenty of free parking.

The beautiful new outdoor ice skating rink at Headwaters Park is open Sunday through Thursday from 12 noon until 8 pm and on Friday and Saturdays from 12 noon until 10 pm. Hours of operation are also determined by weather conditions. ‑The rink will remain open until at least February 15. ‑For more information or to inquire about group rates you can call 422-7625. ‑I hope you all take an opportunity to enjoy outdoor ice skating this winter.

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