WEIRTON - A portable ice skating rink being set up for Saturday's Oktoberfest celebration at Marland Heights Park will help gauge public interest in cold-weather activities as well as show the community all the park has to offer, organizers say.
"We're hoping for a really good turnout to show the community the park's potential," Marland Heights Community Association President Doug Jackson said.
The Oktoberfest celebration will run from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and includes everything from crafts, foods and legal beverages to pumpkin painting, petting goats, pony rides, dance schools and live entertainment, including the Skip Peck Trio, as well as ice skating.
There also will be silent auctions "and lots of fun things for kids and families to do together," MHCA's Kathrine Kolanko said. "There's no admission fee, but if you want to (participate in an activity) we'll be selling tickets."
Kolanko said the company bringing the ice skating rink in "does it across the country."
"They do it in Florida around Christmas time so people can enjoy a winter activity and learn to ice skate," she said. "We're not going to be giving lessons, though. If you have skates, bring them because we'll have a limited amount of ice skates available (for people to use)."
Jackson sees Saturday's event as a trial balloon: The city's park board at one time had considered razing historic Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Pool and replacing it with another outdoor activity, but gave the circular, above-ground structure a reprieve after past and present Marland Heights residents rallied to save it from the wrecking ball. One of the site options the board initially considered involved turning it into an ice skating rink, but the estimate they were given ran to the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Jackson said the company arranging Saturday's demonstration is "the most common and widely used" in the country. Cost depends on size, he said, "but it would be at least one-fourth the cost of what the park board had originally been told."
"Our mission is to make Marland Heights a year-round park and facility, with activities 12 months a year," Jackson said.
(Harris can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)