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Tradition of Pershing Square Ice Skating Over Fifty Years Old

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, December 15, 2008, at 09:43AM
Pershing Square Ice Skating 1952 Los Angeles Times, 12/12/1952

While this year's Pershing Square rink is billed as the "11th Annual Downtown on Ice" the tradition of skating at the square actually dates back to 1952. In that year the Downtown Business Men's Association sponsored the first of two years of "Skating in the Park," bringing a 40 by 60-foot rink to the square.

These two first years didn't offer the Los Angeles public the chance to get out on the ice, instead offering a steady stream of performances by area skating clubs and stars.

In both 1952 and 1953, the traditional Mexican observance of Las Posadas was given a new twist by taking place of the ice in the square. Wise men wore skates, as did the two dozen youngsters who took to the ice to gather up candy from a smashed pinata and distribute it to children watching from outside the rink.

Though it's unlikely that the idea was ever put into practice, another Downtown rink has been proposed decades earlier. In 1916, Belgian scientist Paul Bourgeois revealed plans to build a Broadway rink made out of what he called "mineral ice." The substance, described as a sort of "liquid marble" did not need refrigeration but was purported to offer a surface skatable just like ice. The 15,000 square foot rink was to accommodate 1,000 skaters.

The modern-day "Downtown on Ice" rink offers skating seven days a week through January 19, 2009.

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