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It's freezing out there

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By Katy Korkos

The days may seem balmy, but there is some serious freezing going on in Los Alamos Canyon at night, to get the ice rink ready for the season’s activities. Ice sheet formation has been going on every night this week in Los Alamos Canyon and the rink should open today, Recreation Programs Manager Dianne Marquez said. This will be the fifth season of refrigeration for the ice rink, which used to rely on weather alone to maintain ice in the canyon.“Making the ice sheet is a really strenuous operation,” Marquez said. She said that the process began last week with a thorough cleaning and power washing of the rink. After the rink was clean, all of the edges were sealed with tape. The next step in the process is to begin forming the sheet, with the crew starting after dark on Tuesday to form the first layer of ice by spraying water with misting wands. “It takes six or 10 passes to build about a quarter inch of ice,” Marquez said. The crew works until midnight over the course of four or five nights to get the ice sheet started by hand, to ensure that the ice will stick.“First, we have to get a good bond, so we get a good sheet and a good season,” Marquez said. White paint is added to the ice sheet after the base layer of ice goes down, and the colored markings of stripes and circles are painted in by hand on the third night. Marquez described painting the markings as backbreaking work, as it has to be done with a four-inch brush.“Then we seal that, put a couple more layers down, and when that is frozen, we can start to flood with a hose,” Marquez said.“All of the paint used in the rink is environmentally safe, food-grade, biodegradable, chalk-based paint,” Marquez said. “The final step to prepare the ice for skaters is to bring out the Zamboni and finish it off.”The first big item on the busy winter schedule is the recreation division’s popular “Frozen Turkey Bowling” event, to be held Friday and Saturday. The Los Alamos County Parks and Recreation Division came away from this year’s New Mexico Recreation and Parks Association state conference with an armload of awards for its programs, with “Frozen Turkey Bowling” winning the prize for Innovative Program of the Year.April Pools’ Day at the Aquatic Center, the Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series and the Festival Fair and Rodeo were all selected in August by a peer review of professionals in parks and recreation, from among hundreds that were submitted for consideration. The county’s creative programs and events have consistently received several awards each year from the NMRPA. The Festival Fair and Rodeo won Program of the Year.The Los Alamos County Summer Concert Series won the Arts and Humanities Award, and the panel was so impressed with the concert series that they have forwarded the program to the national level for further award consideration.