NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A holiday tradition returns to Bryant Park, but you’ll notice significant changes to your shopping and skating experience at Winter Village – all for safety’s sake.

As CBS2s Vanessa Murdock reports, sounds of construction echo through Bryant Park, but not for much longer.

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Sounds of the season take over Friday, which is opening day for the 19th Bank of America Winter Village.

Shops built Monday will boast unusual finds. The rink – getting hosed down – will be iced over and ready for you to glide across.

“It’s a different Winter Village, but it’s one of the great things that they’re still happening in New York,” said Dan Biederman, executive director of Bryant Park.

Biederman says this year the Winter Village is “thinned out for safety.”

The number of unique shops has been trimmed to a third of the usual to avoid sidewalk congestion. Still should be easy to find that special something for your special someone – more than 60 vendors will be spaced out around the Village.

While the number of New Yorkers and tourists entering the park won’t be regulated, entering a shop may be – it’s up to the owner.

No longer will you step inside The Lodge to warm up, but onto The Lodge Deck, heated for your pleasure. You can grab delectable eats and drinks –  all al fresco.

Hoping to show off your ice skating skills? Reservations must be made online (click here to do so).  Need skates? You’ll rent them and lace up outside.

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Indoors is in the past here.

“We’re trying this out, may do more of it in the future,” Biederman said.

He says a typical season draws roughly 300,000 skaters. This year, being anything but typical, they’re still hoping to host 200,000 for free.

“Everybody who loves Winter Village will love it almost as much this year,” he said.

Maybe more.

Winter Village remains open through March 7th.  The holiday shops close sooner, in early January.

For more information, click here.

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