It’s Zamboni Season at the Marathon County Ice Arena :: Come Check Out Our Ice at Scary Skate, Open Skating, or a RiverWolves Hockey Game!

Written by Karyn Powers

“There are three things in life that people like to stare at: One is a rippling stream, another is a fire in a fireplace, and the third is the Zamboni going around and around and around.”

— Charlie Brown (Charles Schulz)

October means the start of indoor ice skating at the Marathon Park Ice Arena. Indoor ice means it’s also the start of the Zamboni season!

Zamboni, if you don’t already know, is the brand name for a machine that resurfaces ice.

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Zamboni machine being driven by Tyrone Radkey at the Marathon Park Ice Arena to prep it for a high school hockey practice. (Photo courtesy of Karyn Powers.)

You see, Frank Zamboni built the first ice-resurfacing machine in 1949. His company originally manufactured ice to preserve food for long-distance transport. As refrigeration systems improved, he changed his focus to operating a 600-person-capacity indoor ice arena.

Before the Zamboni, ice was resurfaced by first shaving it with a blade pulled behind a tractor. Then the shavings, or “snow,” was shoveled off by hand. The last step was to use a large hose to spray water over the rink, and the water was squeegeed into any remaining cracks or gouges.

In fact, early hockey games were two, 30-minute periods
with an hour off in between just to resurface the ice!

The modern-day resurfacing machine consists of a propane- or battery-operated chassis with a wide, sharp blade at the front that shaves the surface. Shavings are removed by 2 horizontal augers that move the chips to a center vertical auger that lifts the chips and shoots them into a holding tank.

In the middle of the machine are a spray, squeegee, and vacuum for washing the shaved surface.

At the back of the machine is a spray bar that releases warm water onto the ice and a “towel” (actually a rubber blade) that smooths and finishes the process. (NOTE: Warm water bonds better to the existing ice and reduces the likelihood of chipping and cracking.)

Driven clockwise in overlapping ovals,
a single Zamboni can refinish a rink in as little as 8 minutes!

Figure skaters like the ice softer for sticking their toes in for spins, etc. Hockey players like a harder surface so they can maintain high speeds and turn quickly. The Wausau & Marathon County Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department does not currently have the capability of changing our ice temps, but we will be installing a controller for that for next year’s ice season (Oct. 2020).

Zamboni-from back
Zamboni machine being driven by Tyrone Radkey at the Marathon Park Ice Arena to prep it for a high school hockey practice. (Photo courtesy of Karyn Powers.)

The Zamboni is only used on the indoor ice arenas at Multi-Purpose Buildings 1 and 2 in Marathon Park. Our outdoor ice rinks are made by packing snow cover and then flooding it with water trucks and a handheld hose. Our outdoor ice rinks are maintained by plowing off significant snowfall and then brooming off lighter snow of at least an inch.

Come check out the ice at our first-ever:

Scary Skate :: Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, at Marathon Park Ice Arena (Rink #1)!

Public skating is free that night from 7 to 9 p.m. Costumes are encouraged, but not required.

The Wausau RiverWolves hockey team will be skating with the public, and there will be candy and Halloween-themed decorations. Skate rental is available for $3. Children ages 11 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

2019 Scary Skate

Learn more about the Wausau RiverWolves at their website or download the RiverWolves’ home schedule here.

Wausau RiverWolves Ticket Prices

  • $10 Adults
  • $8 Seniors (65+ years) & Military
  • $5 Students (Ages 5–18 years)
  • FREE Under 5 years

Tickets are available by phone at 715.869.3132 or in person at the RiverWolves office inside the Marathon Park Ice Arena. (Doors open 45 minutes before puck drop.)

Public Skating at Marathon Park Ice Arena

Evening & Weekend Hours

(Oct. 20, 2019, through Feb. 19, 2020)

Wednesdays              7–9 p.m.

Sundays                      2–5 p.m.

Monday – Friday        11 a.m. – 1 p.m.


Holiday Hours

Thanksgiving             Closed

Friday, Nov. 29           Closed


Monday, Dec. 23        2–4 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 24        Closed

Wednesday, Dec. 25   Closed

Thursday, Dec. 26       2–4 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 27             2–4 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 28         2–4 p.m.

Sunday, Dec. 29            Closed

Monday, Dec. 30           2–4 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 31           1–3 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 1        4–6 p.m.


Fees at Marathon Park Ice Arena

Indoor ice fees            $3 youth / $4 adults

Bonus cards                $20 for 10 sessions – youth / $30 for 10 sessions – adult

Season pass                 $75 youth or adult

Rental skates               $3 youth or adult

Bonus cards and season passes can be purchased at the Ice Arena during public skating hours or at the office of the Wausau & Marathon County Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department (212 River Drive, Suite 2, Wausau).





Public Outdoor Skating Rinks

  • 400 Block, Downtown Wausau — Open skating & warming house (Skates can be rented from Shephard & Schaller, across the street from the ice rink.)
  • Marathon Park (near grand stand) — Open skating & warming house
  • Thom Field N 13th Street — Open skating & warming house


Hours (Weather Permitting)

Monday – Friday         5 to 8 p.m.

Saturday & Sunday     10 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Winter Recess Hours (Weather permitting)

Monday – Saturday     1–8 p.m.

Sunday                           10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 25     Closed

For other fall & winter recreation ideas in Marathon County, be sure to check out our 2019–2020 Fall & Winter Recreation Guide.

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We hope to see you out on the ice soon!

karyn_powersKaryn Powers

Recreation Superintendent  |  Wausau / Marathon County Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department 

Karyn Powers joined the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department in 1991. Prior to settling in Marathon County, she spent 5 years working for the Department of Defense in Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Services for the U.S. Navy in Iceland and the U.S. Army in South Korea. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Park and Recreation Administration and a master’s degree in Education. In addition to being the city/county Recreation Superintendent, she is a published poet and author. Karyn fell in love with Marathon County as a college senior when she interned here in 1979, then traveled halfway around the world to get back here as soon as was possible.  Email Karyn Powers.

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