Despite extreme winter weather this year, local ice rinks have seen a healthy number of holiday skaters.
"Mother Nature has pulled a few tricks on us with the snow last weekend and the rain this weekend, but by and large, attendance has been very, very good," said Jack Rhinehart, assistant manager of the Headwaters Park outdoor ice rink.
One thing that helps the ice stay cold even on warmer and wetter weekends is the rink's new Trane chiller, a large greenish-gray box near the back right corner of the rink that was funded by gifts from donors, Rhinehart said.
The rink also got a private grant that helped purchase 60 new pairs of ice skates this year, not including the skates received from the former McMillen Ice Arena when it closed to be turned into a community center.
With warmer weather and gray skies Sunday afternoon, about 20 people, mostly families with young children, circled the ice rink, stopping every few laps for pictures.
On a bench in front of the entrance to the rink, Andy Wilson of Fort Wayne helped his children Delaney, 9, and James, 8, lace their skates.
This is the family's first time coming to the rink this year. The last time they came was two years ago.
"Last time I didn't know how to skate, but now I do," James said.
"We're big into roller skating," Andy Wilson said, "But going to one blade with the skates is difficult."
The family hobbled a few steps to the ice rink and held the wall at the entrance.
The kids slipped in their first steps on the ice, but recovered quickly with Dad in tow.
There are no special holiday events at the ice rink, Rhinehart said, but there are extended holiday hours with the rink open until 10 p.m. every night until Jan. 11.
For skaters who prefer to stay indoors, the Lutheran Health Sportscenter's Canlan Ice Sports offers three indoor rinks and a Bounce Mania play center.
General Manager Eddie Hawkins said all the public skates have holiday music, and one rink is decorated with lights and trees.
"Once the cold weather and the snow hits, we definitely see an increase in public skating," Hawkins said.