Winterfest set-up underway

Third Street in Downtown Tulsa will be closed today in front of the BOK Center to prepare for the return of Arvest Winterfest presented with the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation.  The 39-day outdoor celebration will feature ice skating below the skyline, horse and carriage rides, the state’s tallest Christmas Tree, and free outdoor entertainment on the ONEOK Stage.

The elaborate set-up process includes constructing a 9000sf ice rink on the surface of Third Street.  First, a large wooden frame is designed and built along the edge of the street.  Over forty dump trucks of sand will be used to level the street, essentially creating a giant “sandbox” on top of the concrete surface.  A thin layer of plastic will be placed across the frame and will be covered with plastic tubes filled with glycol, a chemical compound that will aid in the ice freezing process. The glycol tubes are connected to large refrigeration chiller units that cool the tubes below the freezing point.  Dasher board walls are constructed around the perimeter of the rink.  Then, hundreds of thin layers of water are poured over the surface and allowed to freeze.  After several days, the ice is thick enough to glide across on skates. 

The tentative daily set-up schedule (subject to change due to weather conditions) follows:

Thursday, November 10:  Third Street closed to traffic, contractor moves on-site, “sandbox” construction begins

Friday, November 11-Sunday, November 13:  “Sandbox” construction continues, equipment and refrigeration chillers moved onto site

Monday, November 14: Sand delivery and leveling of “sandbox”

Tuesday, November 15: Christmas Tree construction begins with placement of giant steel rings, ice rink construction continues with placement of plastic and freezing tubes

Wednesday, November 16: Christmas Tree construction continues and warming tent construction begins

Thursday, November 17-Thursday, November 24: Christmas Tree construction finishes, Dasher boards placed around ice rink, freezing of ice rink surface, holiday decorations and lighting placed

Friday, November 25: Turkey Trot 5K in the morning, festival opens to public immediately following race

Arvest Winterfest presented with the Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation is open daily from November 25, 2011 through January 1, 2012. The festival welcomed over 121,000 visitors to Downtown Tulsa in 2010. A full Winterfest calendar is available online at