CASPER, Wyo. — Nov. 25, the official start of the Christmas shopping season in downtown Casper, will also mark the first day of outdoor ice skating at David Street Station this winter.
The community went without the popular ice rink last year after supply-chain issues doubled the cost to rent a chiller, forcing the difficult decision to forgo setting up an ice rink.
With the situation rectified, ice skating at David Street Station will return to its normal routine and general skating schedule, according to Kevin Hawley, Casper Downtown Development Authority executive director, who also oversees David Street Station operations.
“One benefit [to the cancellation last year] was that we heard loud and clear that [the ice rink] was something important and special to the community,” he said.
Plans are to install the ice rink Nov. 15, with opening day set for Small Business Saturday, the first Saturday after Thanksgiving, which coincides with the community Christmas tree lighting at David Street Station and downtown Christmas parade.
The ice rink will remain open until mid-January.
Even in Wyoming, an outdoor ice rink requires an industrial chiller to keep the ice frozen and accessible for skating.
After a lack of availability plus rental prices reaching $85,000–$91,000 last winter, Hawley said this year chiller rental costs have normalized, allowing DSS to move forward with a rental agreement.
David Street Station is privately funded and does not receive tax dollars. Relying solely on sponsorship revenue, donations and grants to operate, the nonprofit brings free events to the outdoor community public plaza year-round.
Providing the ice rink is a costly service.
According to Hawley, chiller rental this season is $42,000 for a two-month contract.
The $1,000 monthly electric bill to run David Street Station can reach $5,000–$7,000 per month during the ice rink season, depending on the weather, he said.
David Street Station charges a fee for ice skating to help recoup costs.
“We do our best to keep it reasonably and fairly priced, and often have a sponsor,” Hawley said.
According to Hawley, often a sponsor will donate funds so David Street Station can offer free community skating at the end of the season for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to skate up to that point.
Given the high operation costs, Hawley said David Street Station is looking for corporate sponsorships to help offset the rental and installation costs.
The Wold Foundation has stepped in as the first supporter to offer assistance and ensure the community rink moves forward this season, and David Street Station is hopeful other donors will consider helping, Hawley said.