Eileen Posadny makes it a point not to miss the Lights Before Christmas at the Toledo Zoo, and this year’s addition of an outdoor skate rink made the upcoming event even more appealing to the Sylvania Township resident.
“We come for Lights Before Christmas every year. It’s a family tradition,” said the 26-year-old, who with daughter Samarah, 2, braved chilly winds Thursday to walk around the zoo.
When Andi Norman, the Toledo Zoo’s director of marketing and public relations, told Ms. Posadny about the ice rink feature, her face brightened.
“Oh! Wow! That would be neat,” the flower shop sales representative said. “Definitely, we’ll be back. I’ll probably rent the skates.”
Presented by Keybank, the lights exhibit kicks off about 6 p.m. Friday with the ceremonial lighting of the zoo’s 85-foot Norway spruce tree, draped in more than 35,000 energy-saving LED lights.
The lights exhibit, which has run annually since 1986, will feature more than a million lights and more than 200 illuminated animal images, a snow globe for people to step in, as well as carolers and ice-carving on selected evenings. The ice rink and the snow globe are sponsored by Taylor Automotive Family.
The $125,000 ice rink will be the first such facility at the zoo, Ms. Norman said.
Ms. Norman said organizers don’t plan on having the ice rink at the zoo next year.
“That’s not to say that it may not come back in future years — we like to continually change things up, keeping things fresh and interesting,” Ms. Norman explained.
The rectangular rink is 45 feet by 85 feet, with an occupancy limit of 100 people. It will be located at the zoo’s Broadway Pavilion, near the amphitheatre.
Chris Martin, park operations manager at the Toledo Zoo, blows off leaves from the ice rink that will be available during the zoo’s annual Lights Before Christmas display, which opens Friday.
Each skating session will last 15 to 20 minutes. Skates can be rented for $3 a pair or visitors can bring their own skates. There is no fee to ice skate beyond the price of zoo admission.
The rink is only for skating; no hockey games or other organized games will be allowed, Ms. Norman said. However, the Toledo Walleye hockey team members and Spike, the Toledo Walleye mascot, are scheduled to be at the rink from 5 to 7 p.m., Nov. 20, to skate with visitors and sign autographs, she said.
Gary Balsom, the zoo’s facilities construction small projects manager, said the ice for the skating rink will be made with a chilling unit, which uses glycol. The freezing agent circulates through hundreds of 85-foot-long tubes and freezes the water poured over them, ultimately bringing the ice temperature down to 5 degrees, he said.
The lights exhibit and rink will run from Nov. 15 through Dec. 31 (closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve night, and Christmas Day). Hours for both are 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, with the zoo closing at 9 p.m.; on Friday and Saturday, the hours are 3 to 9 p.m., with the zoo closing at 10 p.m.
When Ms. Posadny and her daughter return for the lights exhibit, it won’t be just them, she said.
“We go with a big group of family and friends,” she said. “We enjoy it a lot.”