Jeff Humphrey

A Race Against Time and Weather

Jeff Humphrey, Media Manager, 509.625.6308

Friday, December 8, 2023 at 9:28 a.m.

We all know how to make a tray-full of cubes to cool off our refreshments. But, laying down the first, frosty layers of the Numerica Ice Ribbon can be a lot trickier.

"Yeah, basically, when we start, we turn our refrigeration on, get the slab cold enough. And then, we start from there, applying very thin layers of 140 degree, hot water. And, that hot water melts the surface of the existing ice to help smooth it, as well as adhere. So, you're getting full sheet of ice, instead of just layers on top on of layers," explained Nathan Meade, City of Spokane Parks & Rec.

In mid-November, Riverfront Park's ribbon saw unseasonably warm temperatures and then, rain. That's why some years, the nighttime is the right time to make ice.

"So nighttime gives you your best chance of colder weather. It helps your ice, that you're building, to actually 'stay'.You do it during the day, you're getting sunshine and, basically, you're going to be spraying water for no reason," Meade warned.

And, there is one other trick Meade has up the sleeve of his flannel shirt. His crews mix up gallons of paint and then, whitewash the Ice Ribbon for more than just aesthetic reasons.

"The paint gives you a protective layer from the sun. You get sun on it, with out paint, and you're going to have a gray color from the concrete that's underneath cause ice is clear. So, that gray color is dark and it attracts the sun. Its gonna help melt your ice. So, the paint just helps protect it and helps reflect the light off of it and keeps it from melting," detailed Meade.

And so every year, the Riverfront Park Staff races against time and changing weather to make sure the ribbon is ready. And, most of the work happens under the cover of darkness.

"It does change up our schedule. We have to plan, quite a bit in advance, for everyone who has families. It's something we do enjoy doing. We enjoy seeing people happy skating on it. So, we like to do it," Meade said with a smile.

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