Ice skating might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Baton Rouge, a city more known for its sweltering summer heat than frosty winter activities. However, as the holiday season approaches, the city transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with an ice skating rink that has become a beloved tradition for both locals and visitors. Let’s delve into the sparkling world of ice skating Baton Rouge and uncover the magic behind this unique Southern winter experience.
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A Tradition of Ice
The Raising Cane’s River Center, an arena and convention center located in the heart of Baton Rouge, has been hosting an annual ice skating event for almost four decades. This tradition, a rarity in the warm climate of Louisiana, is a testament to the city’s innovative spirit and commitment to providing diverse recreational activities for its residents and visitors.
The Making of an Ice Rink
Creating an ice rink in a city that seldom sees temperatures drop below freezing is no easy feat. The process begins with the installation of dasher boards, a task that takes about a day to complete. Over the next four to five days, the ice is built up inch by inch, with water being poured onto a cold surface and allowed to freeze before the next layer is added. This meticulous process not only ensures a smooth skating surface but also allows for the incorporation of designs and logos into the ice.
To prevent the ice from melting in Baton Rouge’s mild winter temperatures, the arena relies on a chiller system. This system, which consists of large machines known as chillers and coils beneath the arena floor, circulates cold air to maintain the ice’s temperature.
A Gathering Place for All
The ice skating rink at the Raising Cane’s River Center attracts a diverse crowd, with visitors coming in especially on weekends and locals frequenting the rink throughout the week. The goal of the River Center is to promote a sense of community and encourage residents to live, work, and play in Baton Rouge.
For those looking to plan a larger gathering such as a corporate party or a birthday celebration, the River Center offers special rates and the option to buy out an entire skating session. Tickets for individual sessions, which include the cost of skate rental, can be purchased online or at the venue’s box office.
Hockey in the Deep South
In recent years, the Raising Cane’s River Center has added another exciting feature to its winter line-up: professional hockey games. This sports initiative, a first for Baton Rouge, caters to the city’s growing hockey community and offers residents the chance to experience professional hockey without leaving the state.
The Inaugural Season
The inaugural hockey season at the River Center features three games with teams from the Federal Professional Hockey League (FED). The games, played in December and January, offer an affordable and exciting way for families to enjoy the sport. Like the ice skating sessions, tickets for the hockey games can be purchased online or at the River Center’s box office.
Preparing for the Games
Preparing the arena for a hockey game is a different task than setting it up for public ice skating. It involves installing dasher boards, drilling new cap rails, adjusting the sound and lighting systems, and adding netting and goals. Despite the additional work, the River Center team is enthusiastic about bringing this new sporting event to Baton Rouge.
Learning to Skate in Baton Rouge
For those new to ice skating, Baton Rouge offers various opportunities to learn the basics of this winter sport. The Raising Cane’s River Center, for instance, holds skating lessons for beginners during the holiday season. These classes, led by experienced instructors, cover basic skating skills and allow participants to practice what they’ve learned.
In addition to the River Center, there are other venues in Baton Rouge that offer ice and roller skating lessons. Leo’s Ice Skating & Hockey Complex, for example, has a year-round indoor facility that provides skating lessons for all ages. Whether you’re an adult looking to pick up a new hobby or a parent wanting your child to learn to skate like a pro, these venues have got you covered.
Celebrating the Holidays on Ice
The ice skating season in Baton Rouge typically begins in mid-December and runs until early January, providing plenty of opportunities for families to create lasting holiday memories. While the ice rink is open seven days a week, hours of operation may vary depending on the day and any scheduled hockey games.
First-time skaters are advised to dress warmly and consider wearing knee pads for protection. Skating monitors are on hand to assist those who need help and provide advice on how to improve.
A Winter Tradition with a Southern Twist
Ice skating in Baton Rouge may seem unconventional, but it’s a tradition that the city holds dear. It’s a testament to Baton Rouge’s commitment to providing diverse recreational opportunities for its residents and visitors.
So, whether you’re a local looking for a fun way to spend a winter day or a visitor seeking a unique Southern winter experience, be sure to check out the ice skating rink at the Raising Cane’s River Center. It’s a Baton Rouge tradition you won’t want to miss.