More skating and skiing options help Anchorage glide through the pandemic

Skaters skate around in front of some trees.
Skaters enjoy the ice rink in Town Square in Anchorage on Dec. 30, 2020 (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

Anchorage‚Äôs parks department is using a boost in funds to give residents more places to ski and ice skate this winter. 

The city recently announced it was partnering with the school district to maintain eight rinks from Eagle River to Anchorage. Erin Kirkland, a community engagement coordinator for Parks and Rec, said the rinks will hopefully open to the public by next week. 

“Families are welcome to comel,” she said. “Hockey teams and other groups … Maybe you just have a birthday party, and you want to do something outside, so you rent the rink.”

The maintenance is paid for with CARES Act money allocated by the Assembly. Kirkland said the funds also allowed the city to groom a nordic ski track on the Park Strip near downtown, which is already open for use. She said Parks and Rec traffic counters reflect a lot more use this year of parks around town, and the department is trying to make sure residents use them safely.

“We truly believe that health includes mental wellness, physical wellness,” she said. “The more people that can get outside and do it safely with that physical distancing, the healthier this entire community is going to be.”

Separately, the Anchorage Downtown Partnership has also opened up a skating rink in Town Square for public use with the help of private donations. The rink has been installed in the past, but not in the last several years, according to a statement from the Downtown Partnership.