HAYS — Three men were hard at work Wednesday morning in downtown Hays piecing together half-inch-thick plastic polymer pieces to form what would soon become an ice skating rink made of artificial ice.

That outdoor rink is downtown Hays’ newest attraction. It sits beneath the Downtown Pavilion at 10th and Main Street, and the artificial ice allows it to withstand whatever weather conditions a Kansas fall or winter might throw at it.

Sara Bloom and Allie Glidewell, executive director and director of events and operations, respectively, of the Downtown Hays Development Corporation, the nonprofit responsible for bringing the rink to the area, watched the setup.

According to Bloom, the temporary skating rink offers a glimmer of hope in what has been an often dismal year.

"It just really made sense for 2020 because it’s been kind of a disappointing year for so many, because of how much has been canceled," she said. "We thought this would give the community something to look forward to."

The development corporation and members of the community celebrated the grand opening of the ice skating rink. The rink will be open to the public through February 28. Operating hours are 4-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4-9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

It costs $7 per person for an hour on the ice. Included in that price is a pair of rental skates, which are provided on site.

"We ask people not to bring their own," Bloom said. "Because this is synthetic, it takes a very specific type of skate that we’ll be utilizing."

Artificial Ice Events, the company that set up the rink, also supplied the skates. Bloom said the company provided about 100 pairs of skates, including adult and youth sizes.

Bloom said the rink should be able to accommodate close to 40 skaters at a time.

For those wanting to bring a large group to the rink, or for those hoping to skate often, the downtown development corporation will have discounted punch cards available for pre-purchase at the organization’s office at 1200 Main St.

The organization is also allowing groups to rent out the rink for private parties. Time slots of 10-11 a.m. Saturday and noon to 1 p.m. Sunday will be dedicated to such reservations.

Bloom hopes the skating rink complements downtown Hays’ existing businesses, as people travel downtown for the rink and stay in the area to shop, dine and experience what the downtown has to offer.

"With the uncertainty of 2020, it’s been a really hard year for retailers and small businesses and restaurants," Bloom said. "And we have no idea what the holiday season is going to look like either. ... We’re hoping this will be an attraction that not only the community of Hays can take advantage of but that the surrounding area can take advantage of. We’re hoping that it attracts a lot of people."