Agreement in final stages for Wicker-ICE community ice to the funding and volunteers


Wicker-ICE rendering does not show the side-wall 42" boards on three sides and 24" boards on the fourth*

What started at the beginning of the year with a couple of people in Wicker Park wanting to enjoy a community ice rink has snowballed into a full-fledged possibility because of the work and persistence of several people, the co-operation of the Chicago Park District and 1st Ward Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno. Now volunteers and funding are needed.

At a Monday afternoon meeting, Chief Operating Officer Patrick Levar, Chicago Park District (CPD), agreed that they will create an agreement with the Wicker Park Advisory Council (WPAC) to permit a non-refrigerated community funded, installed and maintained rink in Wicker Park, which will be installed in late November and removed in the first week of March. 

The agreement resulted from the concentrated efforts of the Wicker-ICE Executive Committee, which includes the two people who individually had the dream, Brian Culliton and Nick Gecan, chairmen and designers; Doug Wood, committee coordinator; Mike Kupfer, hockey enthusiast; and Russell Ruplinger, engineering consultant; along with the support of Alderman Moreno and 1st Ward Staffer Rocio Varela. 


Culliton has first hand experience from building a small rink in his backyard for his sons Aiden and Briden, pictured here

Though the weather may give skaters only 30 days of skate-able ice, Brian Culliton says, "The rewards of having only a handful of skating days, I believe, outweigh the hard work and commitment needed from the neighborhood.

"On those perfect winter nights, the rink will bring the Park alive and provide additional support to local businesses. 

"I cannot wait to be able to walk with my kids to Wicker Park and enjoy skating, even if it is only for a few days a year. The goal is to get them outdoors and active during the winter season and there is not a better, more beautiful urban space for this than Wicker Park. I am so excited that we will not have to drive 30 plus minutes or endure the crowds at the ribbon in Maggie Daley Park. I also love the idea that we don't have to plan for a trip and my family can spontaneously go skating when the weather is right." 

Community Access
The community will have access to the 75 by 180 foot to 85 by 200 foot ice rink during the hours and dates of operation, if weather and ice conditions are supportive for use.

It was determined, at the Monday meeting, that the rink cannot be rented for events that will exclude the public from the use of the rink, unless the event is a fundraiser for the rink itself. Such an event must be presented to and voted on by the Wicker-ICE Committee and approved by the WPAC Board in collaboration with the Chicago Park District and the major funding organizations. 


At the WPAC July 7 meeting, Culliton (lwr lft), Moreno (upr mdl) Council members and rink volunteers discussed rink possibilities, challenges and solutions

Next steps
Within the next month, the Park District will present details on the following:

  • bringing the field up to grade with soil, then laying new sod following removal of the rink in March 2016
  • creating a design for installing lighting that will both benefit the rink and assist in the illumination of the field, enhancing security and safety for park patrons
  • determining what liability coverage is needed beyond the basic coverage provided to all advisory council projects
  • providing extended hours of operations in December, January and February 

With the rink to be totally funded and maintained by volunteers, the WPAC and Community Partners have a list of to dos that must be completed in the next 30 days to bring this project to fruition.

As Nick Gecan put it, "The ball is in our court. We have to fund it and operate it. We need everyone's help.

"It will be wonderful to have the Park function with this type of activity during the winter season, surrounded by great architecture.

"It will be give neighbors a chance to meet neighbors as we did on the South Shore when I was growing up."

Doug Wood has pulled the community "to do's" together in the following list:

  • Contact those who said they would volunteer to install and maintain the rink as well as the hockey leagues and determine a time schedule
  • Contact those who were interested in donating funding and determine their level of support
  • Promote the rink heavily with activities at the next 3 movies, WPAC regular events, Farmer's Markets and special fundraisers set up by partners
  • Obtain support from both the 2nd and 32nd Ward Aldermen and other community groups like the Bucktown Community Organization (BCO), Wicker Park Committee (WPC), schools, etc.
  • Promote ad sales and ticket sales of the Midnight Circus in the Park (MCIP) as one effort
  • Work with the ice rink vendor and set date of installation with volunteers
  • Set up an account through the Parkways Foundation that will be used as the fiscal agent account. 

Everyone interested in participating in this new Park addition may obtain more information via email.

 *Image courtesy of Culliton Quinn Landscape Architecture



Can I get more information on

Can I get more information on volunteering to help with the Wicker Park Ice Rink? Thanks!

Sure...the link is above in

Sure...the link is above in the last is an email link.

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