Maggie Daley ice ribbon a treat for Chicago families

I have brought my kids to outdoor ice parks with shovels. Many places delegate users to handle snow removal. I once visited an ice rink where we were forced to kick open the frozen door of a Port-a-Potty. My family has driven hours to use a rink that had absolutely no spot to lace up, so my husband and I bent ourselves in two in order to handle things from the minivan.

We are die-hards to say the least.

When I first read about the new Maggie Daley Park ice ribbon, I was stoked. A quarter mile path of ice in the heart of downtown! BRILLIANT. But the pièce de résistance? If you own ice skates, it is all entirely FREE.

Trust me when I say we have our own skates.

And that I love free things more than pie.

Last Friday, I loaded up my husband, two of our experienced skaters, and a random friend who kept getting his playdate cancelled because we were all sick. My main priority was a clean bathroom with working doors. My husband was looking for plenty of bench space to lace up. Our boys simply wanted a fun course. And our much-cancelled upon playdate child (who had gone years without skating) was secretly praying for some rails to hold tight.

In many ways, I want to tell you that the ice ribbon was an unmitigated disaster and we all hated it. I want to tell you that desperately because I don’t want any of you people to go there.

I want this fantastic attraction all to myself.

But that would be selfish. And I am a giver.

The ice ribbon is THE BOMB.

First up, the bathrooms, which I think speak for themselves. Holy mother of Donald Trump:

Next up? There were unlimited indoor and outdoor places to lace up. Lockers to boot! Vending machines! And for our newbie skater? Jesus heard his sacred prayers and provided non-stop rails to steady his stride.

My rag-tag group of skaters had to be dragged off the ice kicking and screaming. I think their smiles speak volumes:

But like everything, there are a couple of things to keep in mind in advance of visiting. The Zamboni runs every two hours, and it takes nearly an hour for the machine to do its job. I would suggest calling ahead for the schedule so as not to arrive just in time for Zamboni Hour. My husband assures me that with all the wear and tear this ice will receive, keeping large cracks and divots under control courtesy of the Zamboni is extremely important. He laughed when I suggested they only do it once a day. I am not exactly an ice connoisseur. I don’t even like snow cones.

My second suggestion would be to invest in clearance skates. The line for rentals often gets quite long, and it was so great when we could just lace up and walk right on without any aggravation.

Like many Chicagoans, I have griped about the money spent on polishing the Bean, planting flower pots and providing throw-away lunches no CPS kid actually eats.

But the ice ribbon?

Chicago is off the naughty list. This rink is the most fantastic Christmas present for my entire family. We look forward to spending many years here enjoying the sights and sounds of kids (big and small) having fun in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

And to show my thanks, I will try very hard never to make fun of the Bean again.

It is the season of miracles, after all.

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