Costa Mesa's winter wonderland

COSTA MESA — Small children in knitted hats, big jackets and waterproof snow pants came out in force Saturday morning to play in 40 tons of snow.

Toddlers walked around gingerly on the cold stuff while the older kids excitedly scooped up snow balls to throw at their friends Saturday at Torelli Realty's annual Holiday Snow Land at the Balearic Community Center in Costa Mesa.

"I think it's really fun because you don't get snow a lot here," said sixth-grader Kyandall Mann, 11, after the snowball destined for a family friend was squashed by her father.

The snow, though, wasn't the only attraction.

Families decorated sugar cookies with green, pink, yellow and brown frosting, sprinkles and marshmallows; took hayrides around the park; kids had butterflies and spiders painted on their faces by the Estancia High School cheerleaders, and got their photograph taken with Old St. Nick.

"I think it's going great," said Torelli Marketing Director Holly Schwartz. "Everyone seems to be really, really happy."

Torelli Realty began hosting the event about 20 years with the city and has kept it up after the city had to pull out, said Valerie Torelli, president of Torelli Realty, who was stuck at home after surgery on her broken leg.

For Torelli, the event is all about giving back and she said she couldn't not do it — residents look forward to it.

"We've been doing it forever and its come to be a holiday tradition," she said.

The event has changed over the years — the snow hill had to stop without the city's help — but Torelli said it's only going to get bigger.

"Count on 2012 being bigger and better," she said.

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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