THE LOOP — Skating season in Chicago is officially under way as the Millennium Park ice rink kicked off its 13th season on Friday.
The ice rink, on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison streets, is the first public rink in the city to open for the winter.
Matt Rodriguez, 20, said he has attended the rink's opening day for six years in a row.
"Opening day, just the whole energy that's here, it's just fun," Rodriguez said.
The Old Irving Park resident said he comes to the rink maybe 10 times each season because he loves skating.
"It's something I look forward to all year since you can't do it during the summer," he said. "It's fun. I love it."
Rodriguez brought his friend, 20-year-old Amanda Acord, to the rink's opening. Acord said she was happy she made the trip with Rodriguez.
"I go with him whenever he makes plans," she said. "I love skating, but I only go maybe once a year."
The two said besides skating being a fun winter activity, there was another draw to the rink: it's free.
Skating is free, though skate rentals are $10. On weekends this season, the city also will provide free skating lessons.
From Fridays to Sundays, the city will offer "winter workouts" for an hour before the rink officially opens. The lessons will be broken up into two, 30-minute "beginner" classes with a capacity of 30 people per class. The classes will be first come, first served, said Cindy Gatziolis, a city spokeswoman.
The rink opens at noon Monday through Friday and at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
City residents looking to skate outdoors at their own local rinks will have to wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Six neighborhood outdoor rinks are set to open Nov. 29, weather permitting, said Chicago Park District spokeswoman Marta Juaniza. Those rinks are at McKinley Park, Mount Greenwood Park, Riis Park, Rowan Park, Warren Park and Midway Plaisance Park.
A seventh outdoor rink at Wentworth Park is scheduled to open in December, officials said.
There will no longer be ice rinks at West Lawn Park or Wrigley Field, and the rink at Daley Bicentennial Plaza will be closed this season due to construction.
For a complete schedule and holiday hours for the Millennium Park ice rink, check the city's website here.