City’s outdoor skating rink — with real ice — to return to Watson Park

City crews use a fire hose to flood the bottom of Watson Park to make ice skating possible during the current cold spell. The National Weather Service says temperatures are expected to remain at or below freezing for the remainder of the week.

UPDATE: Forecast delays opening of city’s outdoor skating rink

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Milder winters have foiled the city’s makeshift skating rink for several years, but Lawrence residents will soon have reason again to lace up their ice skates.

The subfreezing temperatures — and forecast of more to come — mean the city is able to flood the low-lying area of Buford M. Watson Park, 727 Kentucky St., to create the temporary rink.

“I’m really excited about the chance for people to go out on a cold day and enjoy an opportunity that doesn’t happen all the time in Lawrence,” Parks and Recreation Director Derek Rogers said.

The city began flooding the park Tuesday morning, and Rogers said the ice should be ready for skating by Thursday evening. One of the last times the city was able to create the skating rink was in 2011, according to Journal-World archives.

Rogers said there must be several consecutive days of subfreezing temperatures before they can flood the park for skating, and he is glad the weather forecast is providing the chance to do so this winter.

Use of the rink is free and residents must bring their own ice skates. The rink will be open for skating during park hours, which Rogers said are from 7 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. He said skaters can get refreshments and use the bathroom at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St.

The outdoor rink will be the only local option for skaters this year. The city decided to discontinue use of its artificial skating rink, made of slick plastic pieces that fit together, when attendance declined significantly following its debut year.

The city sent a press release regarding the rink Tuesday, and is asking that residents stay off the ice until it is fully hardened to prevent cracks and ruts that are hazardous for skaters.

Once the ice is ready for skating, Rogers also urged residents to use the rink responsibility. He said that people should ensure children are supervised by an adult and take adequate precautions for the cold weather.

Rogers said the city will make an announcement Thursday once the ice is ready.