For the past 24 hours, crews have been working around the clock with the goal of transforming the stage in the Island Showroom into a skating rink for this weekend’s performances of Christmas on Ice.
The transformation began yesterday morning (December 11th) at around 8:00 AM when crews began to assemble the 36×45 foot frame that would serve as the foundation for the rink. Once the frame was in place, crews lined the inside of the frame with a large plastic tarp to protect the stage from any type of moisture/water seepage that may occur during the freezing/refrigeration process.
Preparations were running smoothly until it came time for crews to lay down the sheets of fiberglass insulation over the top of the plastic tarp. To explain where the problem came in, we need to get ahead of ourselves for a just a minute…
The sheets of insulation lie on top of the plastic tarp and one the sheets of insulation have been seamlessly laid down, a large rubber mat with an internal cooling system is placed on the top of the insulation sheets. Because the sheets of insulation are sandwiched between the waterproof tarp and the mat where the ice is laid, the sheets of insulation act like a sponge by soaking up any water that collects between the two layers. Once the performance is over and the ice is removed, the sheets of insulation are simply removed from the frame and loaded back into the truck where they have time dry out between performances/locations.
Unfortunately for crews, they did not anticipate our below freezing temperatures so rather than drying out, the sheets of insulation froze and where adhered to one another when crews went to remove them from the truck…. Only in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is it too cold to make ice!
To remedy this problem, our lighting experts simply lowered our lighting rigs to stage level and turned on the stage lights to help expedite the thawing process. Once the insulation sheets regained their flexibility, crews were then able to lay the insulation sheets on top of the tarp in preparation for the cooling mat and the ice itself.
Back On Track
With the frozen insulation problem solved, things were back on track! The cooling mat was laid down without incidence and crews were actually able to take a small break before the ice truck arrived.
Ice, Ice, Baby
At 2:00 PM, the ice truck arrived and crews began unloading some 900 bags of crushed ice onto the stage. Crews worked diligently and had all 8,600 pounds of ice unloaded and in place within a forty-five minute time frame. From there, the bags of ice were spread throughout the 36×45 foot fame and watered to allow the freezing process to begin. The freezing process was facilitated through the cooling mat which contains a large internal cooling coil that runs along the frame of the mat. The large cooling coil, then feeds the smaller coils that run down the center of the mat to accelerate the freezing process. Once the freezing process began, the ice required 24 hour supervision by crews to make sure that the ice was groomed throughout the freezing process to ensure a smooth surface for the skaters.
At last check this morning (8:00 AM to be exact) the ice was in prime condition and needed only minor touch ups before rehearsals this afternoon!
The indoor ice rink in itself is spectacular not to mention what the actual performance holds in store for our showroom guests! We highly recommend that if you don’t have tickets for this weekend’s performances of Christmas On Ice that you get them before its too late! Shows are scheduled for Friday & Saturday at 8:00 PM with a matinee performance on Sunday at 3:00 PM.