By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Another January day with temperatures in the 40s was paradise for some but a pain for others.

The recent thaw has been hitting outdoor ice rinks and winter attractions, like the Ice Castle in Stillwater, particularly hard, forcing them to close.

Still, some businesses are opening up amid the warmer temps.

In Coon Rapids on Thursday, Bunker Hills Golf Course opened its driving range, which has never before opened in mid-January.

Mark Myhre, of Blaine, was in full swing.

“It feels comfortable and nice,” he said. “Perfect day.”

It was also warm enough to get the maple sap flowing out at the Lowry Nature Center. It was the earliest that’s ever happened, too.

Meanwhile, on Lake Minnetonka’s Excelsior Bay, preparations were underway for this weekend’s North American Pond Hockey Championship.

The competition will have 75 teams competing on 16 rinks. And even if it’s above freezing, the games will go on, despite not compressor to keep the ice steady.

“Kids we might be playing with a tennis ball if the weather is bad…but that’s the love of the game and we’re still playing,” said organizer J. Lindsay.

Warmer temps also make it more enjoyable for the thousands of spectators, who can participate in outdoor games, a 5K run and listen to live music.

The pond hockey tournament runs Friday through Sunday, with money raised going to The ALS Association.

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