During the holidays it can become very expensive for families to go out for entertainment. This year, however, East Los Angeles residents and neighboring visitors had the time of their life ice skating, playing in the “snow” and taking part in a variety of other fun free activities at the East Los Angeles Civic Center, courtesy of LA County and local businesses.
It was “a super amazing” place for the kids, said Araceli García, who takes cares of six children.
“Sometimes we don’t know where to take them and this is good [because] we live a few blocks away from here,” said the East LA resident. “I found about the event by coincidence last time when I came to the library with my grandson.”
Ten-year-old Noe Ramirez tried his best not to fall while skating, eventually exiting the skating rink for a much needed break. “I like ice skating” he told EGP before returning to the rink despite the cold his yellow t-shirt did little to prevent.
The skating rink was part of the four-day “East LA on Ice” festival kicked off Dec. 12 by Los Angeles Supervisor Gloria Molina, County Parks and Recreation and the East LA Chambers of Commerce with the lighting of a 17-foot Christmas tree “brought from Oregon,” holiday carolers, and a special visit by Santa and his elves.
“The holiday season brings the spirit for family and traditions unique to East Los Angeles,” Molina said in a statement. “… we are thrilled to bring the entire community together to share the joy with their families and friends.”
Visibly thrilled by the event, Maria Trujillo watched as her 7-year old son Ivan Trujillo and a friend, both beginners, attempted to skate around the rink. “It is really good and kids have a lot of fun,” she told EGP with a big smile on her face.
“I fell only once,” said Ivan, adding he was having a lot of fun. His 7-year old friend, Rogelio Ramos, said he too was enjoying the time there. “I fell a few times and then I learned,” he said proudly. “This is my first time” ice-skating, he explained.
The four-day festival drew about 3,200 ice skaters and 9,000 people overall took time out to play in the “15 tons of real snow” brought in, take pictures with Santa or to ride the holiday train, according to the county.
“The Department of Parks and Recreation believes it is important to have [these types of] fun filled events for our patrons,” parks and recreation Deputy Director Frank Gonzalez told EGP, “This is the second year this event has been held for the local community,” he said. “We had a synthetic skating rink last year and this year we [have] real ice,” he added.
On Saturday, Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez joined Santa for a special appearance that included distributing $25,000 worth of toys to children at the event.
The East Los Angeles Public Library, Sheriff’s Dept also helped bring all this enjoyment for the community, said Gonzales.
“There are few things in life more rewarding than the glee that children feel this time of the year,” said Molina. “The opportunity to ice-skate, play in the snow and meet Santa are experiences they will remember for a lifetime.”