New Beginnings: Long-anticipated skating rink installed at Wenzel Plaza
By Kris Leonhardt
MARSHFIELD – Construction started Dec. 14 on a long-anticipated skating rink at Wenzel Family Plaza.
“I started in 2019 and one of the biggest things that people were talking about was an ice skating rink in the plaza,” said Wenzel Plaza Director Nicki Ryner. “It was part of the initial plan. Unfortunately, it just didn’t come to fruition right away because as projects go, things come up, budgets have to be looked at; and unfortunately, it was not one of the things that ended up in the initial (offerings) when the plaza opened in 2018.
“It really has been one of my things, since I’ve started… We have members on the committee that really wanted to see an ice skating rink come to fruition in the plaza. It was a big thing that we wanted to see.
“We started thinking about ways that we could make this happen.
Ryner said that the group did a lot of research, visiting other communities such as Stevens Point, who opened a rink on their fountain last year.
“I worked really closely with Justin (Casperson) in the (Marshfield) Parks and Rec Department to see what we could do,” she added.
Fueled by a community desire for a rink in the plaza, a plan was developed.
Ryner said that the timing of its development couldn’t be better with the current environment.
“This is something that I think we need as a community,” she said. “The plaza is all about having events, and with COVID, it hasn’t been able to happen this year. So, we would love to bring some sort of activity and joy to that area, and the downtown in general.”
The ice rink will be situated inside the fountain area, which Ryner says will make it a more intimate space.
Once the space is prepared, Ryner added that it might be some time before the rink is ready for skating.
“The weather is a huge contributor to this; so obviously, we’ve been dealing with a pretty warm late fall into winter. We don’t expect, due to weather alone, that the rink will open until after Christmas,” she explained.
“As soon as we are able to start making ice, we will be making ice. So, it really is up to Mother Nature right now.
Ryner added that the committee and business partners will be working to make the area a winter-time destination while catering to the current environment.
“We are going to do all that we can to make it a nice special place for people to come downtown. We cannot have a warming house, but we are hoping to have warming elements,” she stated.
“We are going to have these little mini-events that will hopefully just be very welcoming to people. We are just going to do our best to make it as welcoming as possible.”
Once the rink is operational, an opening celebration will be held. The rink will be available 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., with masks and social distancing encouraged. More information on the rink will be posted on the Wenzel Family Plaza Facebook page.
“I am so excited to have something that we can actually give the community that they’ve wanted for the last couple of years, and it was able to work,” Ryner added
“I am hoping, if anything, the skating rink can kick off just new beginnings for the next year.”