MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

December 15, 2011

An ice time in Tahlequah

Outdoor rink lets skaters glide through the holiday season

— Let’s take a trip someplace far away and long ago, where it’s a brisk winter afternoon and the local pond is completely frozen over.  

You and a group of loved ones strap on ice skates and step tentatively onto the frozen surface. You start off across the ice, wobbly at first, but gaining confidence with each push forward.

You skate for hours, admiring the scenery and laughing at your occasional tumbles.  Finally tired out, you all head home to warm up by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate.

It’s a heartwarming winter scene usually enjoyed by Northerners instead of Oklahomans, but for the first time ever, a real outdoor ice rink has come to this area.

The Tahlequah Chamber of Commerce, Tahlequah Main Street Association and the City of Tahlequah are offering SnowFlake ’11 at Norris Park, near 400 N. Muskogee Ave. in Tahlequah through Jan. 1. All ages are welcome. Admission is $10, which  includes tax, skate rental and 90 minutes of ice time.

Kate Kelly, the chamber’s tourism director, said the event has been open since Thanksgiving and has received a positive response from the community.

“The Snowflake outdoor ice rink has proven to be a wonderful thing for Tahlequah,” she said.  “It’s brought in many visitors from out of town.  We hope people will continue to come and visit now through New Year’s Day.

“Everyone who’s skated has enjoyed it immensely,” she added. “We had three private sessions today with a school. The kids were smiling; they were just beaming.  Many had never ice skated before.”  

Even big kids from Northeastern State University had a good time.

Zachary Whatley, an NSU student from Fort Bragg, N.C., said he had never been on ice skates before.

“For my first time, I thought it was fun,” he said. “I had a good time with friends.  And there’s a good vibe with the people that are here.”

John David Ferguson, a student from Hayworth, said he and friends have been skating at SnowFlake ’11 twice in the past two weeks.

“I haven’t been ice skating until now,” he said. “Being from Oklahoma, I will probably never get to do it outdoors again.”

Ferguson said the ambiance at Norris Park gives visitors a feeling of the old-fashioned Christmas spirit.

“The park is great at night,” he said. “My friends and I had a blast last week and just had to come back today. With the lights around and the music playing, it’s very Christmasy, you know?”

Megan Cone, a student from Skiatook, said the learning curve on skates isn’t too bad.

“Skating is a little harder than rollerblading, and the ice is a little uneven after people are on it for awhile,” she said. “But it’s so fun to get out with friends and have a laugh.”

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