What is known as a traditional carnival ride has now become a winter activity in the city of Mitchell.
The Mitchell Activities Center is offering ice bumper cars and they have already provided a new winter thrill for some riders. Parks and Recreation Director Nathan Powell said the arrival of the ice bumper cars have been met with plenty of excitement from community members.
“When we shared the arrival of them on our social media page we had a lot of people sharing it. It was really a nice surprise to see the excitement already,” Powell said. “There were a lot of people who came out on the opening day. We are excited for this new activity to be available at our facility.”
Powell has high hopes for the ice mobiles, as he projects they will bring close to $40,000 in revenue to the Activities Center.
Andrew Farny, Ice Bumper Cars International sales manager, said Mitchell is the first city in the Great Plains to welcome the ice bumper cars, excluding Colorado, where the company is based out of. Since the founding of the company three years ago, Farny said the winter mobiles have gained popularity across the country. According to Farny, there are 25 cities that have purchased ice bumper cars.
“They are a great activity for all ages and all types of people. You don’t have to be really athletic to interact with the bumper cars,” Farny said. “It gives people who might not be ice skaters and want to enjoy activity on the ice to have fun doing something different in the winter.”
Sparking more interest and participation for winter activities has been a mission for Powell, and he expects the ice bumper cars to do just that. In total, there are 10 bumper cars that can be operated on the designated section of ice at one time and he said the devices are accessible to those with disabilities.
“We’re hoping to encourage more people to enjoy winter activities, and I think this can also lead to more people taking part in other winter games like ice skating and hockey,” Powell said.
To allow for the bumping, there is a large PVC inner tube that wraps around the control system where the driver sits and operates the bumper car with joysticks. One-third of the ice rink will be blocked off during the hours of operation, which will allow for open skate to resume.
The ice mobiles are backed with a 24-volt power system that propels the two rubber wheels to help gain traction on the ice without causing any damage, according to Powell. Four smaller wheels are also installed on the bottom of the inner tube, which will allow for the bumper cars to be used off the ice.
Powell said he’s already begun exploring potential opportunities to offer the bumper cars during the spring and summer.
“It’s great that we can utilize these on and off the ice, because it opens the door for new and interesting activities for the community,” he said. “We had to do some training with the bumper cars and the staff, and we have a place to store them at the ice arena when they are not being used during the hours of operation.”
The ice bumper cars will be available to the public during open skate at the Activities Center, which will span from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Open skate season continues through March 22. The weekend schedule will run from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
The cost to use the bumper cars is $6 for 10-minute rides. To drive the ice bumper cars one must be at least 5-years-old and 42 inches tall or 3.5 feet tall. In addition, one must weigh 300 pounds or less. Passengers ages 3 and under are allowed to sit in the bumper cars with a driver as long as the combined weight of the two passengers equates to 300 pounds or less. Private rental options are also available, Powell said.
“We are under a year-warranty right now, and I don’t foresee there being many maintenance costs with the way they are built,” Powell said.