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How do those ice rinks stay frozen under the blistering SoCal sun?

Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square takes place on Christmas Eve during the 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. session. Skaters are let onto the rink an hour at a time.
Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square takes place on Christmas Eve during the 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. session. Skaters are let onto the rink an hour at a time.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Orange County's largest ice rink is now open to the public — just in time for the holiday season. But it doesn't feel much like winter with the weather we've been experiencing, unseasonably warm even for Southern California.

So how do all those seasonal ice skating rinks that pop up around the Southland keep their ice from melting faster than a scoop of ice cream on a hot radiator?

The pop-up ice rink at The District in Tustin in November 2017.
The pop-up ice rink at The District in Tustin in November 2017.
Courtesy of Ice Cold Entertainment 

Lenny Davis, president of Ice Cold Entertainment, knows all the tricks. His company installed the five-thousand square food slab of ice at The District in Tustin, the largest pop-up ice rink in Orange County.

He isn't concerned about the temperature.

"What affects an outdoor ice rink is sun and wind. Not so much the heat," he told KPCC. "I'm not so much worried about the ambient temperature, once we've made the rink, as I am about the sun hitting it or the wind hitting it."

Kids hold onto the railing during Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square on Christmas Eve.
Kids hold onto the railing during Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square on Christmas Eve.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The bright sun will tend to melt the surface layer but underneath the ice, it's about 5 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Davis.

The combo of wind and sun, which occurs when the Santa Anas blow through Southern California, is especially challenging. But the problem isn't unique to Southern California. Davis said his company recently faced a similar problem at a rink in Nashville, Tennessee where the temperature was only 67 degrees.

They make ice all through the night, when temperatures cooler. Workers use a Zamboni 100 to resurface the ice and maintain the chilly sub-surface temperature.

A worker smooths the ice on a zamboni in between sessions during Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square on Christmas Eve.
A worker smooths the ice on a zamboni in between sessions during Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square on Christmas Eve.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

The Tustin rink will remain open through January 15 as part of the shopping center's 10th anniversary celebration.