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Maggie Daley Ice Ribbon Zamboni Tweets Warn of Long Waits for Resurfacing

By Mina Bloom | January 2, 2015 6:56pm
  Skating halts a few times a day thanks to the Zamboni. Plan ahead by checking out   MDP Zamboni Driver.
Zamboni Wait Times
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CHICAGO — If you are planning a trip to the new ice ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, you might have to wait to get on the ice.

While the wait to rent skates can be long, skating is halted altogether three or four times a day so the ice can be resurfaced — a process that can take up to an hour while a Zamboni smooths out the ribbon

To help skaters time their visits around the Zamboni's schedule, a new Twitter account, @MDPZamboni, was launched on Dec. 29 by the Chicago-based company that manages the ribbon, Westrec.

The account gives the approximate times the machine will be on the ice and how long.

"Say someone is downtown with their family and they plan on going to the ice ribbon and they know they have an extra hour because the Zamboni is out," said Bob O'Neill, president of the Grant Park Conservancy. "It's great to be able to notify [them]."

The frequency of the Zamboni is dependent on a few factors like the amount of people using the ice, the sun and the temperature, O'Neill said. But no matter how often the ice needs to be resurfaced, skaters have to wait 40 minutes or more when the Zamboni is on the ice.

At the city-owned McCormick Tribune Ice Rink at Millennium Park, which is located on Michigan Avenue between Washington and Madison Street, a resurfacing scheduled is posted on a dry erase board at the skate rental counter daily, but it's not posted online, a city spokesman said.

They use an Olympia machine, not a Zamboni; it hits the ice roughly every 90 minutes and skaters have to wait 20-30 minutes before they can get back on, the city spokesman said.

Millennium Park's ice rink is much smaller than the skating ribbon at Maggie Daley Park, which means resurfacing the ice takes less time.

The ribbon is a winding, 20-foot-wide path. It's a quarter-mile long, features 27,500 square feet of ice and can accommodate 700 skaters at a time.

O'Neill believes that a notification system will not only help people plan ahead, but it will also help alleviate crowding at the new skating ribbon.

"People really like the skating ribbon and we want to make the visit as pleasant and efficient as possible," O'Neill said. "This is one more way to do that."

Plus, there is so much to do at Maggie Daley Park in addition to skating, which means people can have fun while they wait, O'Neill said.

"One family took their kids to the play area, liked it so much, and didn't even end up going ice skating," he said.

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