It has taken nearly two weeks, but the outdoor extravaganza known as Winterfest is ready for participants.
The pro-quality ice rink was finished on Monday, the zip line, bounce houses, concession trailers and warming tent are in place and the attraction on the football field at Bakersfield College’s Memorial Stadium will open to the public at noon Friday.
The event culminates on Jan. 6 and 7 with two big hockey games.
The NHL Alumni/Celebrity hockey game pitting many former Oilers (including Wayne Gretzky) against many former Kings (such as Luc Robitaille) takes place at 6 p.m. on Jan. 6.
The finale takes place at 6 p.m. on Jan. 7 when the Condors, the AHL affiliate of the Oilers, host the Reign (the Kings’ AHL affiliate) in just the ninth AHL outdoor game.
Until then the rink is there for youth and adult hockey players participating in a tournament and for the public.
Daily passes are $20 (including skate rental) and include all the activities except the zip line, which is $10 per ride. A $50 daily pass includes unlimited zip lining.
Winterfest will be open noon to 6 on Christmas Eve. It will be closed Christmas Day. Weekday hours are 4-9 p.m. Weekend hours (Friday-Sunday) are noon-9 p.m. The final day is Jan. 4, as the ice will be reworked on Jan. 5 to prepare for the final games.
Remarkable recovery for Tucson captain
In the feel-good hockey story of the year, Tucson Roadrunners captain Craig Cunningham was released from a hospital Wednesday after cardiac arrest sent him collapsing onto the ice last month.
Cunningham spoke briefly during a press conference at Banner - University Medical Center in Tucson, where doctors outlined how this life was saved, starting with CPR at the arena and ending with two specialized treatments.
“I wouldn’t be here today,” if not for the extraordinary care from the medical teams, Cunningham said. “Some days are good, some are bad. It’s more, for me right now, just the mental.”
Cunningham collapsed to the ice just before a home game on Nov. 19 and was immediately attended to by doctors, trainers and firemen.
Cunningham was in such dire straits when he reached St. Mary’s hospital that the emergency team there determined he needed advanced life-saving treatment available at Banner — EMCO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation), a highly specialized procedure in which a pump circulates blood through a circuit of tubing supporting heart function and through an “oxygenator”, which functions as an artificial lung.
Even with that treatment, Cunningham’s condition worsened and a new procedure was implemented. The final procedure worked, allowing Cunningham’s heart, which had been beaten up by 85 minutes of CPR, to recover.
AHL Christmas break
The Condors played their final pre-Christmas game in Tucson on Wednesday night.
The game ended a rough four-game road trip.
The Condors were 0-2-0-1 on the trip heading into Wednesday night’s game.
Bakersfield fell behind 3-0 in the first period on Tuesday night but came back to tie the game and salvage a point with a 4-3 loss in a shootout.