K-Wings rink turns pink for annual ‘Pink Ice’ game

Sports

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kalamazoo Wings ice rink is now pink for the annual Valentine’s Day game.

Crews worked for hours Thursday to transform the Wings Event Center ice for the event.

Wings Event Center pink ice
Crews paint the ice for the annual Pink Ice Game at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. (Feb. 13, 2020)

According to K-Wings Business Operations Director Toni Daniels, the tradition of coloring the ice started in 1982 with St. Patrick’s Day and has expanded to other holidays.

“We used to dye the ice with food coloring, and I don’t know if people know this or not but food coloring actually melts ice, so the first game was this beautiful disaster,” Daniels said.

The process has since been refined. Jeff Remelius, an ice consultant with Mid America Rink Services, says the process begins with shaving down the ice.

“We want a smooth sheet of ice to start the process,” Remelius said.

Workers then spray a mixture of water, resin and dye onto the rink. The process of prepping and spraying the rink takes about two and a half hours.

“Once we’re done with that, it will take anywhere from 10 to 12 hours to build up additional ice over the top of that to make sure it is usable for the game,” Remelius said.

The team also partners with the Susan G. Komen foundation, honoring breast cancer survivors before the game and raises money for research.

The Pink Ice game has been so successful that it has taken place every year for more than a decade.

“The fans really love it,” Daniels said. “It’s a great experience.”

The crew that turns the ice pink says the hours are all worth it when everyone sees the finished product.

“It’s nice when people say, ‘Hey, that looks really cool,’” Remelius said.

The Valentine’s Day game begins at 7 p.m. on Friday. Tickets for the popular event sell quickly every year.

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