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Ice skating rink debuts Friday
Susan Dell’Osso, second from left, is all smiles making her first lap without help around the skating rink on Wednesday. On the left is her sister-in-law Karen Dell’Osso. - photo by HIME ROMERO
LATHROP — The coolest spot in the South County this holiday season may just be on the ice at Dell’Osso Farms.

The 60- by 120-foot skating rink with 4 inches of ice kept cold by tubes filled with glycerin that freezes at 62.6 degrees opens Friday at 11 a.m. just a snowball’s throw from the Mt. Dell’Osso tubing hill that is covered with three weeks’ accumulation of artificial snow.

Susan Dell’Osso was testing the ice late Wednesday afternoon just after a Zamboni groomed the surface.

“You feel a bit of unevenness but once you get used to it seems almost weightless,” Dell’Osso said in describing the second time she’s ever been on ice skates.

Even though her first  whirl at ice skating a few days earlier came and went without a spill on the ice, she opted to start Wednesday with “cheaters” – a stack of overturned paint buckets that those who pay to skate can use at no additional charge so they can find their skating legs.

She was joined by her sister-in-law Karen Dell’Osso and two old pros at skating thanks to their ice hockey playing - nephews Robby Hurrocks, 11, and Ricky Hurrocks, 16.

At one point, Robby, in trying to get a bit fancy “shaving the ice” while picking up speed ended up landing on his rump prompting him to start laughing.

“It’s cold,” he offered with a big grin on his face moments before his brother helped him up.

Falling is all part of the real ice skating experience. That is why Ron and Susan Dell’Osso, after investigating an offer from the owners of the world’s largest synthetic skating rink in Niagara Falls who wanted to sell a section of their rink because it was too big, opted to stay natural.

“It was real easy to skate in the synthetic ice,” she said. “I didn’t fall at all.”

The couple wanted visitors to Holidays on the Farm to have an old-fashioned experience. That is why they opted to spend more and endure much higher energy costs so people can enjoy real ice skating.

It is the only outdoor ice rink in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. It is also the only one in all of California that is next to a covered snow tubing area and adjacent to attractions such as four real reindeer, a zip line, a rope confidence course, and 240 lighted holiday scenes.

Dell’Osso never had the chance to ice skate when she was a kid and didn’t see snow until she was 10.

“I grew up in Southern California,” she said. “We went to the beach on Christmas Day.”

Helping to christen the ice rink for its first season on Saturday will be members of the Stockton Thunder professional ice hockey team. They will be on the ice from 1 to 3 p.m. and will sign autographs for an hour afterwards.

Anyone on the ice at the time they are there can skate with them.

There are 450 pairs of skates in sizes for men, women, and children.

The ice rink will have a set charge of $12 for skating and the use of skates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, for those 8 and older and $10 for those 7 and under. The Monday through Thursday rates are $2 less for each category. Those who have their own skates are being charged $2 less than the stated rates. There is no time limit.

Other attractions run the gamut from snow tubing to lights
Santa will be at The Farm starting Friday as well. He’ll be inside the general store that features wares from local crafters as well as homemade baked goods. One of the few “herd” of authentic reindeer on the West Coast are already on site. There’s no Rudolph but there is a Rudolfo named in honor of Ron’s father Rudy as well as Pumpkin, Snowflake, and Willow.

Ninety-minute snow tubing sessions are $16.50 for on-line purchases and $17.50 for walk-ups. The snow play area is free although conditions may vary. Both the snow tubing hill and play areas are both covered for protection from the elements.

All attractions except the snow tubing and lights open at 10 a.m. Tubing gets underway at 11 a.m. while the Lights on the Farm starts every night at 5:15 p.m. Other attractions that will be in operation include the zip line, the aerial rope course, and the 240 lighted displays and 200-footlong lighted tunnel that makes up Lights on the Farm.

You can take your car through Lights on the Farm Fridays and Saturdays for $12 or Sunday through Thursday for $10. You can also see the lights using an open air tram or hayride for $5 per person. The Dell’Osso Express train ride that takes riders along the lights is $3 per person.

There is no charge just to drop by enjoy watching tubers or skaters. You can even warm yourself around a gigantic fire pit outside the general store near where Christmas trees are being sold.