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For the week of Feb. 9 through Feb. 15, 2000

Zamboni gives Hailey Ice Park a new surface

Power Engineers helps with donation


By JEFF CORDES
Express Staff Writer

For nearly 20 years, laying down the ice has been a rite of passage for parents of youngsters in Hailey.

After a full day of work they pull on their best cold-weather clothes, grab some warm gloves and head out in the late evening hours.

It’s usually freezing cold.

And it’s about to get colder.

They collect the fire hoses, which in recent years have been stored in that most reliable of storing places—Power Engineers south of Hailey.

In the mid-1980s, the parents started laying the ice at Lawrence Heagle Park in Della View Subdivision. One year, they made an ice rink inside Hailey Rodeo Arena.

For most of the last 15 years, however, the location has been Roberta McKercher Park in Hailey.

They unroll the fire hoses at McKercher Park, laughing the laughs of volunteers doing good work.

While most other Hailey residents are enjoying the evening news or their favorite television show, the parents start firing out streams of water.

This winter, back in mid-December, one volunteer said they put down over 300,000 gallons of water on McKercher Park to form the base of the ice rink that is used today.

At the beginning it was five hours a night, for 10 nights—two fire hoses and freezing cold volunteers putting down the ice. "One time I couldn’t get into my car afterward because my gloves were frozen solid," one said.

They end up fully iced, head to toe.

What’s the reason for all the suffering and the hard work?

Well, if you’ve ever seen your son or daughter or their friends enjoying the ice afterward, you know why.

Ice hockey. Figure skating.

Old-fashioned winter fun.

"We’re excited about all the use the facility is getting this year," said James Foster, a Wood River High School teacher and member of the Hailey Ice Park committee.

Hailey Ice Park Committee?

That’s a pretty official name for the group of snow-covered, frozen-faced Michelin men that for years has gratefully crawled back into warm beds after their chores were done.

But there is a Hailey Ice Park Committee, very enthusiastic and active, and they’ve done something that all the parents, during all the bygone years, have only dreamed of.

They bought a Zamboni.

An ice resurfacing machine.

And they bought it the old-fashioned way.

Over the Internet.

Hailey Ice Park Committee member Frank Alloway said, "Originally I started doing research on the Internet and by making phone calls.

"I found someone, I think his name was Marv, at an equipment company in Cochran, Alberta, Canada, about 20 miles west of Calgary.

"I told him, hey, we’re just a bunch of dummies down here, but we’re looking for a Zamboni. What would you suggest?"

To make a long story short:

They settled on a price of $5,000 for a used Zamboni. Of that amount, $2,500 was donated by Power Engineers, which has always been the silent partner behind all the nocturnal ice making expeditions made by Hailey parents.

Marv gladly agreed to drive the Zamboni, by himself, down from Alberta through Montana to Idaho—getting all sorts of interested glances along the way from people wondering what the heck he was towing.

He showed up in Hailey over the weekend of Jan. 15-16—and a new and hopefully simpler era of Hailey ice resurfacing began.

Instead of parents coming to the park a couple of nights a week and spending three hours laying down two layers of ice, they could use the Zamboni to accomplish the same purpose.

Two nights later, Scott Heiner and Ken Ward gave the machine a paint job to erase all the Canadian lettering and substitute "Hailey Ice Park."

They stored the Zamboni in Ken Ward’s garage on Silver Star Drive, a short drive from McKercher Park.

Two days after that, on Jan. 20, Heiner, most of the Hailey Ice Park Committee and Mayor Brad Siemer gathered at McKercher Park to show off their purchase and pose for the photos accompanying this article.

"There used to be two Zambonis in the state of Idaho. Now there’s nine," said committee member Ron Reynoso. "And the kids can come out and skate themselves to death.

"A lot of it is hockey dads, getting together and recognizing the need for ice so that the kids can practice."

But it’s not just hockey.

As committee member Diane Heiner said, Hailey Ice Park gives the town a "decent sheet of ice" on which parents can skate with young children during the weekdays and weekends.

"It’s nice to accommodate everyone—girls and boys and recreational programs," Diane Heiner said.

There are sections reserved for ice hockey and sections reserved for figure skating and sections reserved for just playing around.

Mostly, users respect the dividing lines and appreciate the fact that they don’t have to travel to Sun Valley Skating Center and pay a fee.

In addition, Bege Reynolds has started a supervised skating program for some 27 elementary-school aged girls, meeting Fridays from 3-5 p.m.

Having made a big jump forward with the purchase of the Zamboni, the Hailey Ice Park Committee which also includes Jim Santa, Tom Hanson and Ron Fairfax has other plans.

They’d like to add a warming hut at the site and possibly add some limited lighting. They’d like to get a more permanent garage for the Zamboni so they wouldn’t have to rely on Ken Ward’s generosity.

"We’re trying to find out what is appropriate and what isn’t," said Foster.

Certainly the Hailey Ice Park Committee proves that necessity is the mother of invention.

And that’s the way Frank J. Zamboni (1901-1988) discovered the ice resurfacing machine in the first place.

Zamboni moved to southern California in 1922 with his brother Lawrence to join their older brother George in his auto repair business.

The two younger Zambonis eventually decided to open an electrical repair service business catering to the local dairy industry. They built and installed large refrigerator units that dairies used to keep their milk cool.

Making block ice for wholesalers who needed to transport their goods became their specialty. But, as refrigeration technology improved, the demand for block ice began to shrink.

Frank and Lawrence started looking for other ways to capitalize on their expertise with ice. Their opportunity came in the sport of ice skating.

In 1939, Frank, Lawrence and a cousin built the Iceland Skating Rink in Paramount, Ca. It opened in 1940 as one of the largest ice rinks in the country—first an open-air facility, then with a domed roof.

The challenge now was to maintain the much-improved indoor surface, so Frank started engineering a machine that would make the task of ice resurfacing fast and efficient.

He arrived at a machine that would shave the ice, remove the shavings, wash and squeegee the ice, and hold snow in an elevated tank large enough to last for an entire resurfacing job. By 1949 the "Model A Zamboni Ice Resurfacer" was born.

In 1950, Olympic skating star Sonja Henie and her traveling ice show was practicing at Paramount Iceland when she saw the Model A in action. She asked Frank if he could build one in time for one of her performances in Chicago, Ill.

Orders started rolling in and the Frank J. Zamboni Co. was founded.

The machine purchased by the Hailey Ice Park Committee is a version of the Model HD Series (1964), which was the first production dumper not built on a Jeep chassis.

It had a new vertical auger system to convey the snow and a quick-dumping snow tank. The revolutionary aspects of the HD remain the standard of the industry even today.

Although half of the cost of the Zamboni came from Power Engineers, the other half came from private donations and out of the pockets of many of the committee members.

They are soliciting donations to help the cause.

Tax deductible donations can be made to Hailey Ice Park, P.O. Box 3150, Hailey, Id. 83333.

 

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