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The 20th anniversary of the Pershing Square holiday ice rink




Kids skate during Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square on Christmas Eve. This is the sixteenth season of the rink in downtown.
Kids skate during Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square on Christmas Eve. This is the sixteenth season of the rink in downtown.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

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Southern California is known for its warm winters. That weather usually doesn't lend itself to many traditional holiday activities. 

But there's one place in Downtown L.A. that lets people experience some outdoor winter merriment -- the Pershing Square ice rink.

"This rink is actually the biggest in L.A. right now," said Matt Kessinger, with Willie Bietak Productions, a company that's built and installed the ice rink at Pershing Square since 1997. 

"Because it's been here so long, it's kind of become the holiday staple for a lot of people," Kessinger said.

A worker smooths the ice on a zamboni in between sessions during Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square on Christmas Eve.
A worker smooths the ice on a zamboni in between sessions during Downtown on Ice at Pershing Square on Christmas Eve.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

There's a lot that goes into putting an ice rink in the middle of Los Angeles. That includes something as simple as making sure that the rink is a flat, smooth surface.

"If you don’t have a level surface, obviously, then water will pool in a certain area so we’ve got to make sure everything is lined up together correctly," Kessinger said. "It’s quite a science."

The ice is real, but a hot day actually doesn't pose as much of a risk of melting the rink as another weather condition does.

"The sun really isn’t as much of a factor as wind. When it’s really windy, the friction of the wind actually causes the ice to melt," Kessinger said.

But his team has plenty of experience dealing with the weather. With thousands of people coming here to skate throughout the season, they plan to use that experience to make sure the 20th anniversary of the ice rink goes as planned.

"It’s quite a big deal especially to be at a landmark location. One location for 20 years like this is pretty awesome," Kessinger said.

To hear more about the Pershing Square ice rink, click the blue player above.