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Howard’s own winter wonderland

Outside of the Howard Commons Activity Complex
Construction was compelted on the Howard Commons Activity Complex this summer. Now, the facility is ready to make the transition from roller skating rink to ice skating rink. File photo

By Janelle Fisher

City Pages Editor

The Howard Commons Activity Complex is undergoing a transformation this week, turning in its roller skating, live music and splash pad for ice skating, igloos and a community Christmas tree.

Melissa Martinson, director of the Activity Complex, said the conversion of the skating rink is already underway.

“We took down the rink barrier and the company that we purchased the ice rink from is now on site, putting up the basher boards and glass panels,” she said. “We will put down the first layer of ice overnight — the cooler temperatures are, the faster the ice sets up, which is why they’re doing it overnight. They will add paint to the water, also overnight, on Wednesday because the paint and the water adhere to each other and it makes for a stronger base layer. Then on Thursday we will lay down our logos and continue to add layers of ice. Friday we’re doing zamboni training so that we can learn how to maintain the ice once it’s in place and then we’ll continue that process through the weekend so that we are ready to open the rink on Monday night.”

The skating rink isn’t the only part of the complex getting a winter makeover, though.

“We are also transitioning our biergarten into a winter setting,” Martinson said. “We put away all of the outdoor lawn furniture that was in there all summer and are now in the process of constructing bases and putting in electrical leads for igloos. We will have eight igloos available for rental starting in December inside the biergarten. The biergarten will also be open to the general public in case parents or family and friends find themselves here with kids or looking for something to do on a beautiful winter day. There will be outdoor general public seating inside the biergarten and we have two TVs that are suited for the elements, so if it’s a Sunday, you can bet the Packer game will be on. We also have a wood-burning fire pit that we anticipate will be a big draw for adults looking for something to do and somewhere to hang out while they’re little people are enjoying ice skating.”

Adding to the festive spirit at the Howard Commons Activity Complex, Martinson said, will be Howard’s first community Christmas tree.

“The village of Howard had never hosted a village tree lighting before, and when we were looking at our calendar trying to determine what weeks we would be closed for the conversion and when a good time would be to open up the ice rink, it was a unanimous decision that it needed to be open before Thanksgiving, as that seems to be the official transition into the holiday season,” she said. “We decided, ‘You know what, it’s a brand new complex, let’s start a brand new tradition.’ So we pick up a holiday tree on Wednesday and we’ll get the lights placed and get it placed in a stand and, because we want to really reinforce our mission and our vision for the complex as a community gathering space, we are also inviting attendees to bring an ornament to add to our tree. It doesn’t have to be anything of significant value. It could be something made by a child in school, it could be an ornament in memory of a loved one that a family wants to honor, it could be something silly. But we invite everybody who is coming to bring an ornament to add to the tree.”

The tree lighting will take place in conjunction with the grand opening of the ice skating rink on Monday, Nov. 20, from 6-9 p.m.

After Monday’s event, skating will be open to the public on Thursdays and Fridays from 4-9 p.m., Saturdays from 12-9 p.m. and Sundays from 12-5 p.m. through the winter season.

“Part of our vision and our mission is that everybody is welcome,” she said. “You don’t have to be a village of Howard resident. You don’t have to have kids. You don’t have to be a certain age. There’s no membership requirements.”

Learn more at villageofhoward.com/428/Howard-Commons-Activity-Complex.

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