Winter Village brings back holiday tradition
Skaters of all ages are heading to Orenco this month for the city's annual Winter Village outdoor ice skating rink.
The rink, now in its third winter at Jerry Willey Plaza, 943 N.E. Orenco Station Loop, has become a seasonal tradition for the Hillsboro neighborhood.
The rink opened for business last Friday, Nov. 24, and crowds of people have already laced up their skates, according to Forest Grove resident Tori Reilly, who has worked at the rink the past three years.
"It's really popular, especially during winter break when kids are out of school," she said, grabbing a pair of ice skates for a family of three. "It's like going back to basics — there's nothing like this anymore."
Winter Village drew an estimated 10,000 skaters last year, and Iris Ringer, Hillsboro's special events supervisor, said this winter should be no exception.
"We're expecting big crowds, and lots of families and things to do," Ringer said. "We decided this year to open the rink earlier. Thanksgiving has the same amount of draw as the rest of the holidays."
The 3,000-square-foot ice rink is the largest Winter Village has ever had.
"We have more ice, a longer season and a few more discounted skate times," Ringer said. "…We're really creating that winter experience for people to skate, or eat, shop, drink — all that good stuff."
Through Dec. 15, Winter Village is offering free skating every weekday at 3 p.m., with a $2 skate rental and unlimited skating from 5 to 8:30 p.m.
The discounted admission brought droves of skaters to the rink on Monday, Nov. 27. Many were beginners learning to skate for the first time, while others are more experienced skaters who grew up with the hobby."We really want to provide as much as we can, to as many people as we can," said Ringer. "We don't want price to be a barrier for people. There's at least one session every day before schools let out for Christmas vacation, where they can have a great way to get out on the ice."
Farmington resident Noriel Sanchez brought his two young sons to skate for the first time on Monday, and while there were a few tumbles on the ice, Sanchez said the boys had a great time.
"They are having a blast," Sanchez said during a break from skating. "They love it."
The rink is the only outdoor ice skating rink in the Portland area and many of Monday's skaters said that unique experience is what drew them to the ice.
"It's outdoors, and that makes it more fun," said Tami Adair of Orenco, who grew up skating and spent time living in Canada. "I used to do this when I was a kid. It's a good thing, to have this."
The annual event started in 2015 after Hillsboro residents asked the city for more family-oriented events.
"People want more fun things to do in the winter to spend time with friends and family, and create new traditions," Ringer told the Tribune last year. "Winter Village at Orenco Station Plaza is helping our community make lasting memories and create some real holiday magic."
The event resumes its regular pricing Dec. 16. Regular skating tickets are $12 for adults and $9 for children under 10.
The city is offering six skating sessions each day. Tickets for the next session will go on sale 15 minutes prior to its start time.
The rink is open from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. each day. It will be open for a half-day on Christmas Eve and will be closed on Christmas Day. The event runs through Jan. 1, 2018.
By Geoff Pursinger
Associate Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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