Looking for another outside winter outing? Within sight of Cobblestone Farm’s barnyard (Outside, January) is a strictly winter attraction: Buhr Park’s Outdoor Ice Arena, located at 2751 Packard Rd. A regulation NHL-size rink, 200 by eighty-five feet, it features a chilled ice sheet, a roof, and lights for night skating.
According to recreation supervisor Jason Nealis, many people aren’t aware that the concrete slab under the ice is refrigerated. PVC coils filled with antifreeze, cooled to six to ten degrees in a nearby refrigeration plant, keep Buhr’s ice skateable well past winter’s peak. Nealis says the rink draws its biggest crowds when the air temperature is between thirty and forty-five degrees, and the ice surface stays solid up to about fifty.
When we visited, lots of people were having a good time, including several novices using walker-like devices called “skating trainers.” They’re available in a variety of sizes, from children through adults.
If you do go skating, be sure to take a good look at the ice beneath your feet. At the beginning of each season, four people using garden hoses work over a couple of cold nights to lay it down in quarter-inch layers. When the ice reaches the appropriate thickness, it gets three coats of white paint. Lines and circles are then painted, and the city’s logo is stenciled on. Finally, more ice is added to protect the paint for the season.
The surface is remarkably smooth for an outdoor rink. Not only does the roof keep snow from piling up, but the staff uses a giant Zamboni to resurface the ice after each session.
Hours of operation as well as rates (including skate rentals), special events, and other pertinent information can all be found at bit.ly/1DCkkvk–or by calling (734) 794-6234. The rink is also available for private rental; several hockey groups use it on a regular basis.
If you still want to skate outside in Ann Arbor, this is your last chance to do it. The rink will be closed for the season after March 29.