It's a chilly night with many beautiful bright Christmas lights and cheery holiday music playing everywhere. You can see people skating on ice having a jolly fun time with friends and family. The mouthwatering smell of delicious food in the air accompanies the scene. This is not New York or Chicago – it's right in the heart of Orange County, Santa Ana.
A historic first for the city of Santa Ana as it unveiled an ice rink to the community, as part of the Santa Ana Winter Village. The Winter Village opened Dec. 8 and will be open until Jan. 2 with each day having a special activity, such as meeting Santa. Adult tickets for skating are $12 ($10 for residents) and $8 for children ($5 for residents). It is being held at the Santa Ana’s Civic Center Plaza right by city hall.
This historic first is part of the city’s pandemic recovery plan named “Revive Santa Ana.” After years of residents usually avoiding the Civic Center due to homeless encampments, now with the Winter Village, it is a place for people to visit and enjoy. “The Civic Center is a major part of Santa Ana’s identity,” said Santa Ana council-member Phil Bacerra. “The ice rink and the Winter Village have allowed the residents to reclaim the Civic Center as an enjoyable gathering place for the community.”
The Winter Village opens a whole new opportunity for residents to enjoy a memorable time with their friends or family on the ice for the first time. “I was overwhelmed with joy when I spoke to people skating on the ice rink and they shared with me that it was their first time ever ice skating and that they lived in Santa Ana,” Bacerra said.
Anyone can visit from neighboring cities or far away and enjoy all it has to offer. Michelle Mendez, 26, of Santa Ana and Barbara Gonzalez, 26, of Long Beach both attended the event together and had so much fun as they got to experience the ice skating rink for the first time ever. “Having an ice rink in Santa Ana is something I never imagined,” Mendez said. “This is an experience I will never forget.”
Food vendors are on site to serve guests scrumptious meals like tamales. Additional activities are held daily to provide guests with more options for fun, such as Native Harvest Market. “It is important and rewarding to provide our residents with as many positive opportunities and experiences as possible,” Bacerra said.
The Winter Village runs through Jan. 2 and is open to anyone of any age or skill level to come enjoy the ice rink along with the daily events. The schedule can be found on the Santa Ana Winter Village website https://www.santa-ana.org/winter-village.