By Ezra Black
With a tight schedule at Fernie Memorial Arena the Leisure Services department is teaming up with volunteer fire fighters so more people can get out for a skate this winter, weather permitting.
The department will be opening a public outdoor skating rink on the west lawn of the Fernie Courthouse grounds on Dec. 8, during an event called “Light up the Night.” The courthouse will be illuminated Christmas-style for the occasion.
Lloyd Smith, director of Leisure Services, said this is the third time in 10 years the city has tried to build an outdoor rink. Warm weather has ensured none of them survived the winter but the city is trying again anyway.
“Maintaining one in our moderate and occasionally rainy winter is a huge challenge,” he said.
“However, we are going to give it all we’ve got to try and get one built for this event. If the weather cooperates, I think Fernie residents will be delighted to be part of a very memorable evening. Skating on an outdoor rink on the lawn of the courthouse, with the trees and building lit in Christmas theme – could be right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.”
Feedback from their advisory board meetings indicates that an overwhelming number of citizens want an outdoor rink, he said.
Smith said Fernie Memorial Arena is booked 95 per cent of the time, which makes it hard to get that pickup game of hockey or family skate going. The arena offers free public skates five days a week but they sometimes conflict with hockey tournaments.
This will be the first time the courthouse has been lit up with Christmas lights. The feat has never been attempted before for fear of damaging the building’s antique brick and slate, so the city will be using projectors, said Smith.
“[It] is an iconic building in the City of Fernie,” he said. “This building has received many awards for architectural beauty over the years. I think this will provide a wonderful experience for the community.”
The Due Clause Trio featuring Erin Frances are providing musical entertainment, the Ghostriders will be there for a tailgate party and the Fernie Fire Department is bringing Santa in their Studebaker fire truck.
Leisure Services is challenging participants and local businesses to give back to the community at the event. An Angel Tree is being set up for the occasion and donations are being accepted for the Salvation Army’s Christmas initiatives.