It was by chance that Jenni Anderson and her family, all of Boise, were at the opening of the Gallivan Ice Rink last year.
Anderson and her husband came to visit Salt Lake City and were staying at the Marriott Hotel on State Street, right next to the Gallivan Ice Rink. However, it was by choice that they came for the opening this year. Anderson said her kids including Riley, 10, Halsey, 8, Sophie, 5, Livi, 3, and Jennison, 8 months, were all anticipating the ice rink's opening and have been counting the days. They even dressed up in skating costumes for the event.
"They've been waiting for it to come," Anderson said, also mentioning that her children planned to come out all four days during their visit. "It's the only time of year they get to skate."
The Andersons joined many other families and community members who came out for the Gallivan Ice Rink opening Nov. 18. The rink was offering free admission and skate rentals, as well as discounted carriage rides for $5 a person.
Wendy Johnson, who recently moved to North Salt Lake from Colorado, said she found out about the event by accident while calling to get pricing to bring a youth group to the rink. Once she learned it was free, she decided to bring her children Lauren, 9, Annalise, 7, Etianne, 5, and Spencer, 2, to try out the ice.
"I've never skated before, but I'm going to give it a try," she said.
Bart Walker, marketing and activities supervisor for the Gallivan Center, said the city tries to open the rink the weekend before Thanksgiving every year.
"It's the time of year when hopefully it's cold enough. We can't do it much earlier," he said. "We want to kick off the holidays the week before . . . the citywide Lights On program."
Carole Quilter, maintenance supervisor for the Gallivan Center, said it's a week-long process that involves three people working all night long to prepare the ice rink for its opening.
"We begin at night and put a thin layer of water down to make the concrete surface as smooth as possible. We put two coats of ice paint and a fine mist on top of that so we don't disturb the paint," she said. "We take a garden hose with pressure nozzles and spray it back and forth all night or until the sun comes up and it quits freezing."
It takes anywhere from two to five nights, depending on how cold it is, for the ice to properly freeze. Weather conditions such as falling leaves, rain and snow do have an effect on the formation of the ice but don't prevent it from freezing.
Walker says the ice rink is likely to be busy in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it will slow down after the first of the year. Every Saturday, from Dec. 10 to Feb. 25, the rink will offer skating classes for all skill levels, which cost $10 a lesson or $20 for a 30-minute private lesson.
The rink also hosts special events such as Santa shoot the week before Christmas, a Super Bowl party, Valentine's Day activity and various other events such as two-for-one skating night.
The rink is open from noon-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from noon-11 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays and Sundays from noon-7 p.m. The cost to skate is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, $4 for children under 12 and is free for children under 3. Figure skate rentals are $3 and hockey skates are $3.50. For any questions about the Gallivan Ice Rink or inquiries about renting it for private parties, call 535-6117.
Walker feels the ice rink is a good place for families and friends to connect. "It's one of the very few outdoor rinks where family, friends and neighbors can come out and skate together," he said. "It's great for visitors coming to local hotels. It's a really fun, warm, cozy activity, especially during the holidays. Some nights we even have choirs singing."