By Darlene Donloe
LEIMERT PARK — Leimert Park Plaza was transformed into a winter wonderland Dec. 17, complete with 40 tons of snow, snow sledding, live music, arts and crafts, a photo booth, hot chocolate and other treats, a holiday market featuring more than 20 local artisans, and, of course, the opportunity to take pictures with Santa Claus.
Giggling children with their eyes all aglow slid down man-made snow hills, threw snowballs and stood in line to tell Santa Claus just how nice they’ve been all year.
Dubbed “Snow Night In Leimert,” the holiday celebration for families in South Los Angeles, was sponsored by the 10th Council District, in collaboration with the Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Council, the city of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, Community Build, 2nd Call, Avenues of Life, Hot and Cool Cafe, Sole Folks and the Southwest Carpenters.
“We were thrilled to host this wonderful and much-needed celebration for the 10th District, and grateful to all of the partners for helping to facilitate this event,” said Ibert Schultz, senior deputy for strategic initiatives for Los Angeles City’s 10th Council District. “We know that Leimert Park is the cultural center of South Los Angeles and there is no better place to host an event to officially celebrate the holidays with your family.”
A number of families attended the event, including suspended Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas, who brought his two grandchildren to the festivities.
“I’m here because it’s the holiday season,” said Ridley-Thomas, whose corruption case trial regarding the USC School of Social Work is set to begin Aug. 9. “It’s the time of year to come out and celebrate with our loved ones and the community.”
Asked how he was doing, Ridley-Thomas replied he was “all right.”
Smiling as he made his way through the cold, slippery snow, Ridley-Thomas, who was in a jovial mood, said he would pass on sliding down the snow hill in a sled.
“I don’t think it will happen,” said Ridley-Thomas, who admitted he couldn’t remember the last time he was in the snow. “It’s been so long, I can’t recall. What I do know is this event is way cool. This is too cool.”
Four-year-old Jamie Moore couldn’t hold back her excitement as she ran and hugged Santa, jumping up and down as she squealed with delight.
Her father, Jamal Moore, said, “This is her first time seeing Santa in person. She’s really excited.”
Alexis Daniels brought her 10-month-old daughter, Ajayah White, to see Santa for the first time.
“I don’t know if she was even looking at Santa or the camera,” Daniels said. “I hope she was. I wanted her to have this experience.”
Dominique Tindal’s 3-year-old son, Aemero, also saw Santa for the first time but showed little emotion.
“He’s not feeling it yet,” said Tindal. “He takes a little time to warm up.”
Fifi Locke, who has lived in the district for two years, thought the event was “fabulous.”
“This is wonderful for children who live in Southern California,” said Locke, who grew up in Gary, Indiana. “The only snow and ice they get to see are in the freezer. It’s great that we can all come together and get along. No problems. We can do this right here in South Central, in District 10, and just enjoy it. Only in Hollywood can it be 78 degrees and we have snow.”
Darlene Donloe is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers South Los Angeles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.