Glen Ellyn takes to new ice skating rink downtown

GLEN ELLYN - An outdoor ice skating rink that opened Friday in the middle of downtown Glen Ellyn puts a new spin on a village tradition.

Hearty souls who want to lace up their skates always have to wait for a big chill to freeze Lake Ellyn. It wasn’t until last week that the green light on the Lake Ellyn Boathouse summoned ice skaters to just a portion of the neighborhood lake.

But skaters can whiz around the new downtown rink regardless of whether Old Man Winter cooperates. That’s because the rink is installed with a synthetic surface.

The village partnered with the Glen Ellyn Park District to create the new destination downtown and turn the Crescent Boulevard parking lot into a “Polar Plaza” with bistro lighting and other festive decorations.

The pop-up rink is close enough to restaurants and shops so families can come in from the cold or couples can continue their date night after gliding on the ice. It will be open daily from noon to 9 p.m. through March, with the lighting illuminating the plaza beginning at 4 p.m.

The village and business organizations see the ice rink as an extension of efforts to support shops and restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis and the post-holiday lull.

The 60-by-40-foot rink takes up the eastern portion of the Crescent parking lot just west of Main Street and can accommodate up to 50 people at a time. Residents and visitors can skate free of charge.

The village funded the project with federal CARES Act dollars. Village trustees late last year approved the purchase of the synthetic ice and amenities to create the plaza at a cost of up to $80,000. Officials also considered a traditional ice rink, but it required refrigeration and had a roughly $175,000 price tag.

“The only real feasible, fiscally responsible option would be a synthetic ice rink,” Village Manager Mark Franz told the board when proposing the project.

The synthetic ice also can be reused throughout the year and in other locations. Vendors told the village the product lasts about a decade. The park district will provide storage.

No skate rentals are on-site, but the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce suggests purchasing or repairing skates at Paul’s Shoe Service.

COVID-19 protocols will remain in place. Face coverings are required. Sanitizing stations also are available at the plaza.