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SAGINAW, MI — A Saginaw wintertime tradition will continue this year.

Outdoor ice-skating sessions at Hoyt Park are slated to begin with an evening-set gathering from 4 p. m. to 7 p. m. Saturday, Jan. 14, according to a calendar published on social media by the nonprofit that organizes the gatherings.

The remaining 2023 ice skating season at the venue near downtown Saginaw plays out over the following four weeks, from noon to 4 p. m. on Saturdays.

Participants can skate on the ice or sled on the adjoining hill for free. Skate rentals cost $2.

The park includes a warming house where attendees can thaw out from playing in the cold outdoor environment. Volunteers serve free hot chocolate and cookies there.

As with previous years, each skating session invites attendees to participate in a different theme or involves special events and guests.

The dates and themes for the 2023 ice-skating classes at Hoyt Park are as follows:

  • Saturday, January. 14 , 4 p. m. to 7 g. m.: The “Night Skate” session offers the lone evening-set event of the series.
  • Saturday, Jan. 21 , noon to 4 l. m.: Local sports mascots will join the skaters on the ice.
  • Saturday, Jan. 28 , noon to 4 p. m.: Attendees are invited to wear apparel — including hockey jerseys — promoting their favorite sports team.
  • Sunday, Feb. 4 , midday to 4 p. meters.: The SVSU hockey club team will join attendees on the ice.
  • Weekend, Feb. 11 , noon to 4 p. m.: Attendees will compete within the 8th Annual Outhouse Race.

Ice skating in Hoyt Park was a Saginaw tradition dating back about one century. In the mid-20th century, tens of thousands of people visited the Saginaw park-set ice rink coined as the nation’s largest such venue at the time.

But that tradition went dormant for much of the 1990s and 2000s due in part to budget cuts that reduced maintenance at the park.

More than a decade ago, the nonprofit Friends of Hoyt Park formed, revitalized the site, and returned ice skating to the property.

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