Ashland's ice skating season will kick off with a new rink cover and hockey exhibitions, music and ice sculpting.
Workers have been putting the finishing touches on the ice rink so it will be ready for opening festivities on Saturday, Nov. 23.
Each year, a parking lot on Winburn Way across from the Lithia Park children's playground is transformed into an ice rink.
The rink has been without a cover since 2007, when its old cover was crushed by a tree and heavy snow, leaving the ice exposed to sun and rain.
The Ashland Parks and Recreation Department paid $251,200 this fall for the new cover.
The cover will reduce rink closures and program cancelations caused by bad weather and sun exposure, parks officials said.
"Over 10,000 visitors skate at the rice rink each year and the cover will help on those tricky weather days," Parks Recreation Superintendent Rachel Dials said.
This season, the rink will have preliminary, understated openings on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 21 and 22, with open skate sessions from 2 to 6 p.m. and adult hockey from 7 to 10 p.m.
A range of activities are planned for the official opening on Saturday, Nov. 23.
"It should be a fun night. It's a good kick-off to the 2013-2014 ice skating season," Parks Recreation Coordinator Lonny Flora said.
— Vickie Aldous
Read more in Saturday's Ashland Daily Tidings.