Wilmette, IL

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Updated on:
Fri, 2017-06-23 17:51

News & Events

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There's always something going on at the Wilmette Park District and we're committeed to keeping you up-to-date on the latest programs, special events, registration deadlines and other issues that might have an impact on your recreational activities. If you have questions or comments, please send us a message.

June 2017
Ever Wonder How They Do That?
Centennial Ice Rinks Edition

Did you know that indoor ice skating rinks must be periodically resurfaced? It’s true! Now, just what does that mean? You’d be surprised how involved the process is for the hard-working team at Wilmette Park District’s Centennial Ice Rinks.

Centennial’s ice experts dedicated their Thursday and Friday, May 25 & 26, to accomplishing this noteworthy task in time for layers of ice to freeze and build up over the Memorial Day weekend.

Starting earlier in the week by shaving away the rink surface with their trusty Zamboni, the sand floor was nearly exposed with only a thin layer of ice still covering it.

“Timing is always the concern – it takes a while and you really can’t rush the process,” explains Ice Rink manager, Sean Flynn. Due to constraints with programming, camps and events, there wasn’t sufficient time to thaw the rink entirely and start from the sand floor – instead the staff planned for a lesser repair, but still no easy feat.

The full process would take several days from start to finish and would be divided into four main parts: shaving the ice down, painting the surface, laying the lines and markers, and the long tedious task of building the ice back up layer by layer.

When the team began phase two on Thursday morning, they had to mix, prep and lay the first layer of white paint to cover the frozen sand beneath. With the help of seven other Centennial Ice staff, head of maintenance, Mark Sak led the team back, forth and around the rink, guiding the spray apparatus across the floor as it laid an even coat of paint. Ice staff carried 200 feet of hose behind Sak, making sure to avoid dragging through the fresh paint.

While layers dried between coats, the crew prepared fresh vats of paint. The project consumed ten large bags of paint pigment to lay three layers of white for optimal coverage on the rink floor. A thin layer of water was used last to seal the paint in the ice, preparing the surface for the bright new acrylic lines, markers and logos that would decorate the rink floor.

Friday morning ushered in the most exciting part of the project for Flynn, “the ability to give the ice a fresh look with new logos.” The crew got started measuring the rink and meticulously laying the lines, ensuring all markers were straight and precise before dousing them with a spray of water to adhere them in place on the ice.

After several hours of careful placing and adhering of all markers, the team held their breath as the first heavy wash of water was sprayed over the rink floor to begin building the ice.

“This is the dangerous part where we have to really trust our markers to stick to the ice and not be washed away – it happens very easily and you have to peel it back and start over again with laying the markers,” explained Centennial Ice supervisor, Kurt VonHelms.

After a half hour, the first layer had frozen and successfully sealed the markers. Over the next 48 hours, the team continued with additional layers of ice until the rink reached the desired height. Then it was time for the Zamboni to smooth it over for that pristine finish.

Tuesday morning at 6 a.m., the freestyle skaters took to the rink and enjoyed the fresh new ice for the first time. “The rink looks great, and I’m sure it will look even better as it is skated on and broken in,” says Flynn.

The rinks at Centennial Ice have a sand floor as opposed to a concrete one. This helps with the settling of the floor, reducing cracking and is also much easier to breach for repairs of the cooling system underneath.

2013 marked the installation of a new, state-of-the-art indirect cooling system for the ice rink. Using a combination of glycol and ammonia in place of the traditional Freon, the system saves money and uses a safer design that is much more environmentally friendly.

However, following the installation in 2013, a bad storm caused the power to go out, thawing the rink floor and causing a few cracks in the ice once the rink was frozen again. “It was more of an aesthetic issue – with the layers of ice over the cracks, our skaters wouldn’t notice a difference passing over it,” explains Vickie Tassone, Centennial Ice Rink’s assistant manager and skating program director. All the same, four years later, the staff was excited to resurface the ice and put a bright and clean face on their main rink.


April 2017

CFC Wins With Lose to Win

The Wilmette Park District’s own Center Fitness Club hosts their successful annual program promoting healthy lifestyle changes.

Local North Shore residents in need of a kick-start to their new year’s resolutions need look no further than their park district’s gym, the Center Fitness Club (CFC). For 5 years, the CFC has been launching individuals on their journey towards better health with their lifestyle improvement program, Lose to Win. Over the course of two months, Lose to Win’s combination of proper exercise, nutrition, education and camaraderie equips participants with all of the tools to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

Registration for the program places participants on a small team where they meet with an assigned trainer twice a week and weight in to track progress each week. In addition, teams are expected to participate in group fitness classes, and receive nutritional coaching and a 2-month membership to the Center Fitness Club, along with discounts on personal training. While each registrant participates at their own pace, the team environment offers motivation and support to encourage the extra effort. “Our instructor, Julie, along with the whole You Snooze, We Lose team inspired me to keep working,” says women’s 2nd place winner, Tia Valavanis.

2017 proved to be a high-spirited and motivated batch of participants, eager to learn and execute the lessons provided by their trainers and instructors. Men’s 1st place winner, having lost 55.3 pounds through the challenge, Mike Rosen signed up for his second year with the program after having his first baby. “I wanted to become a better example for him, and be healthier in general for my growing family.” His work hasn’t stopped with the finale of the program; Rosen has a personal goal to lose 30 more pounds and successfully maintain.

As Rosen learned, the true success of the program is not necessarily in the numbers on the scale, but in the continued improvement over time. Valavanis expressed her enjoyment in her own progress but explains, “I’m still working on it.” Lose to Win is designed to educate participants and give them the initial momentum that will continue their healthy lifestyle.

Women’s 1st place winner, Erica Swanstrom, totaling 23.2 pounds lost, returned for her second year of Lose to Win seeking new challenges and higher goals. She explains that her first year focused on developing a fitness routine and continuing it after the program, while “this time around I really cracked down on improving my diet and making better choices every day.”

Along with Swanstrom, participants like Chad Blankenbaker, men’s 2nd place winner, found themselves incorporating the tools and lessons of the program into their lives outside the gym. “I began realizing how much work it takes to burn those extra calories.” While before he may not have taken into consideration his diet or exercise, now Blankenbaker has found that “the education helps me make better decisions.”

The positive experience of Lose to Win had participants spreading the healthy changes to their families.  “The competition spilled over at home as well,” says Blankenbaker, whose wife also participated in 2017. Rosen was so encouraged by the program and his success that he was searching for similar programs for his father out of state.

Lose to Win has seen many participants return in subsequent years to recharge their fitness motivation. CFC members, and non-members are encouraged to challenge themselves and give the program a try. Lose to Win will be returning again next year for another eight weeks of friendly competition.

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