By Vanessa Brown | CBSDFW.COM


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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Cooler temperatures are finally hitting North Texas on Friday after a cold front pushed through the area. There is no snow in the weather forecast this weekend, but there will be some ice — at least in Fort Worth. It is opening weekend for Panther Island Ice!

Billed as Fort Worth’s only outdoor ice skating rink, visitors can come out for the next two months to enjoy gliding on real ice in a covered pavilion. The rink is located where the Coyote Drive-In beer garden normally sits, just north of downtown, along the banks of the Trinity River. It will remain there until mid-January, and is even open on the holidays.

It takes a team of experts two weeks to convert the area into a skating rink. “It takes people a lot smarter than me,” joked Matt Oliver with Trinity River Vision Authority, the organization which produces the annual event. The team lays down tubing that is chilled, and then mists the area to create a flat surface that is more than two inches thick.

“This isn’t fake. We’re skating on real ice,” Oliver added.

Now in its fourth year, Panther Island Ice has become a hallmark of the holidays. “The cool thing to see about it is people that have come back for multiple years, to really turn into that kind of holiday tradition,” Oliver said.

And, since the rink is covered, skaters are welcome to come out seven days a week, rain or shine. It is perfect for both children and adults, no matter how much experience they may have on the ice. “Couple on a date, dad bringing his daughter, or family coming out,” said Oliver. “It’s neat to see.”

In fact, the rink partners with Fort Worth schools to make sure that children have a chance to enjoy this unique experience. “It is 20 schools that might not have the opportunity to come out,” Oliver said. “Kids, most of them have never skated before, get the opportunity to come out here and just have fun, fall all over the ice.”

Anyone who has not experienced Panther Island Ice in Fort Worth really should check it out. And those who have already hit the ice before will certainly want to go again. Skates are provided, and the movie theater’s concession stands are available near the pavilion. Visit the ice rink’s website for full details including hours and admission prices.