A Southern Californian Winter Wonderland

Alan Le | Staff Photographer

Winter in Southern California hardly emulates the picturesque scenes you see on holiday cards or in children’s books. There aren’t any snowmen in peoples’ backyards and no frozen ponds where children in fuzzy hats can ice skate. Often, the only reason we know that the season has even shifted is because of the impending doom of finals before the holidays. Still, we find our own ways to make the 10-degree drop in temperature around late November into a winter of our own.

Many Southern Californians escape to mountain resorts like Big Bear, Arrowhead or, for the ambitious, Lake Tahoe, to get their fix of fresh snow. Knowing that the slopes will be coated with fresh powder (a sight that our hometowns sorely lack), we flock to these locations at the first sign of rainfall. Resorts such as these offer some of the best terrain for skiing and snowboarding in the country, but for the athletically challenged Southern Californian, they also offer activities such as tobogganing, sledding and tubing that are just not available at home.

For those who can’t travel to a real winter wonderland, theme parks like Disneyland in Anaheim completely revamp the park for the holiday season. The turrets of Sleeping Beauty’s castle are decorated with white powder and over 50,000 lights. A 60-foot Christmas tree towers over Main Street, where artificial snow falls each night. These among many other transformations make park visitors feel like they’ve stepped into a world in which winter actually exists.

Despite the lack of icy ponds in our Mediterranean climate, many shopping malls and plazas provide man-made rinks, ironically lined with palm trees, to provide residents with places to skate. This year, Southern California is going even further to provide frozen fun for local families. To generate publicity for the upcoming film, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” the latest installment of “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, which opens Dec. 10, the Beverly Center is one of 16 nationwide locations featuring an elaborate 30-foot Ice Palace for the holiday season. People can visit the free exhibit, walk through the palace to see realistic scenes from the movie and experience a light show and falling snow.

Though many mourn the lack of a winter season in Southern California, others would argue that we have it best out of any state in the country. We don’t have to deal with icy roads, shoveling our driveways before we can even leave the house or excessively heavy winter clothing that makes us weigh an extra 10 pounds just to stay warm. As a native New Yorker, there’s no doubt that I miss “no-school” snow days, sledding down my street and building snow forts in my backyard. But enjoying all these local winter attractions with Southern California’s 70-degree weather is like having the best of both worlds.