KALISPELL - The hard work of hundreds of community members over the last 18 months has made Kalispell's Woodland Ice Rink a much more modern facility for skaters.
Members of the Flathead Valley Hockey Association decided 18 months ago that they wanted to ramp up their program by creating a more practical skating facility.
Hundreds of volunteers from the community spent all summer fundraising and building a permanent ice rink at Woodland Park and on Wednesday evening all that hard work came to fruition.
Kids skated on the ice, there was a ribbon-cutting ceremony and paper plate awards were given to community members who helped this dream become a reality.
It used to take as long as a week to up the ice rink, and then it had to be torn down at the end of winter.
“It was a very long process. We had hundreds of five-gallon buckets from Home Depot and we would have to fill every single one of them full of water and place them on little tubes to help them stay under the sand," explained Glacier High School freshman Mackenzie Baker. "And that took several weeks but now with all the work we put in this summer we’re not going to have to do that ever again.”
The new rink comes with better cooling technology that will make it easier to maintain the ice throughout the winter.
“It gives us a longer season. Whereas we didn’t used to start until November, we’re hoping to now begin our season in mid-October and run it through March," said volunteer Sara Busse.
One of the best features of the new ice rink is the layer of concrete underneath the ice. The means that when the warmer months come the kids will be able to trade their skates for sneakers and be able to play summer sports like basketball and lacrosse.
Busse thinks the new rink will become a local favorite that can serve the community for years to come, "it could really become a great outdoor venue and really revitalize the park, we believe.”
Some of the hockey players we talked with voiced their excitement about the new rink. The rink is already getting a jump start on community-wide events with a beer fest set for this weekend.