The city of Denison kicked off the holiday season with a bit of winter cheer Friday when it opened its annual outdoor ice rink to the public. This marks the third year the city has celebrated the winter season with its “Denison on Ice” rink.
Main Street Director Donna Dow said she expected about 200 to 300 people to attend the first day of the event, with hopes of bringing more than 9,000 before it closes for the season on Jan. 6. Dow said people had lined up prior to the opening, but traffic remained steady during the first few hours of the rink being open.
“We've had a lot of comments and interest on social media,” Dow said. “We hope that it will set the holiday mood and create a good ambiance for shopping in downtown.”
For the start of the first day, the ice was damp with small pools forming in the surface from the high winds and temperatures in the low 70s. However, Dow said she expected the ice to harden by nightfall as temperatures fell.
“The wind will always keep it wet,” Dow said. “We just have to wait until it gets dark enough and it will refreeze.”
Among those in attendance Friday was Bootsie Scribner and about a dozen friends and family. Scribner said it was her son's birthday, and she wanted to take the family out to do something different this year.
“I think this is really fun for the kids, but I don't think I will be trying it,” she said. “I'd be sliding through the pools in the middle right now.”
Scribner said this is the first time the family has gone to the annual event, which she heard about through the social media posts.
“We thought that it was great that the city was offering something like this locally,” she said.
Sierra Cooksey said she also decided to make it a family day by going with several members of her family Friday. Unlike Scribner, Cooksey said she has been to the rink in previous years.
“Usually, you doing get the chance to do something like this in North Texas,” she said.
Dow originally pitched the idea of bringing in a temporary ice rink to downtown in 2015, with the city council approving the request for the winter of 2016. Following the success of the first year, the rink returned again in 2017 and this year. Dow previously organized a similar event for the city of Durant in the mid-2000s.
Despite the wind and warmer temperatures, Dow said the set up for this year's event was relatively easy, with few setbacks or delays. During the event's first year, issues with power led to the waters in the rink freezing just in time for opening.
“We really have worked out most of the kinks this year,” she said.
Dow said in past years the event served as something to attract people to downtown Denison, with visitors coming from North Texas and southern Oklahoma. Dow said she believes this is because it is closer than other alternatives in McKinney, Frisco and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.