Outdoor ice skating rink

The ice skating rink is similar to the rink at Sweetland Amphitheater in Lagrange, Georgia

The ice skating rink to be installed in the parking lot of the Auburn Mall for the holidays will open sometime in early December.

The rink was initially estimated to open this weekend for Thanksgiving, but has been delayed. Whitney Morris, special events coordinator, said an opening date should be announced soon.

The rink will be about 5,500 square feet, about five times the size of the skating rink installed in downtown last year. And this year's rink will feature real ice, rather than artificial. It will also be covered by a tent, so community members can skate in rain or shine.

Morris said skaters will pay $10 to rent skates and use the rink for two hours. The rink will stay open until President's Day weekend in February.

In a memo to the City Council earlier this month, Parks and Recreation Director Becky Richardson said the department's goals this year were to provide a bigger rink and real ice.

"We were very pleased with the reaction to our first attempt at a holiday ice rink in 2017," she said. "However, we did receive a number of requests that were the result of the small area that we had to work with in the Gay Street Parking Lot. So, two of our goals for this year were to provide a bigger rink and real ice."

To do so, the city worked with the Auburn-Opelika Tourism Bureau and the Opelika Chamber of Commerce to find a central location for the rink. The Auburn Mall was chosen, and the Tourism Bureau and Opelika Chamber are helping pay for some of the costs associated with the rink.

The city will be responsible for the cost of utilities for the rink, and is currently working out the technical details of the installation, which will include equipment to keep the rink chilled.

The ice rink will be located in the mall parking lot off University Drive, in front of the old J.C. Penney store.

Hours of operation will be announced soon, with a tentative schedule showing the rink will be open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

A press release will be posted on the city's website and social media once an opening date is selected.

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