Let it snow, sled it snow

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky Saturday morning over Brand Park, but newly arrived snow covered sections of the park’s grounds.

The wintry coating was courtesy of the city of Glendale, which was hosting its annual Winter Wonderland event for the 30th year.

Even before the event had officially opened Saturday morning, about 50 parents and children had queued up inside the park, waiting to take a turn sledding down one of four snow slides that had been built on a hill.

The slides opened at 10 a.m., and the first children in line readied themselves on circular plastic sleds for the short but steep ride down.

Richard Hoffman watched as his 8-year-old son Richard flew down the slide.

“You rode that thing like a cowboy!” Hoffman yelled as his son ran up the hill after his triumphant ride down.

Richard, who came to the snow day with his parents from Sylmar, was wearing gloves and long pants, but his T-shirt left his arms exposed to the snow.

“I’m almost bleeding,” he said happily, looking at his elbow. “That thing’s deadly.”

Larry Siedelman rode down one of the four snow chutes with his 4-year-old son Michael Siedelman on his lap.

Siedelman, who is from Reseda, was at the snow carnival for the first time this year after finding out about the event from friends.

He showed up to take advantage of the uncommon opportunity to play in the snow with his son while in Southern California, Siedelman said.

Ellen Armitstead, who teaches at Clark Magnet High School and who had helped organize Clark students to volunteer at the event, was watching the sledders with her video camera ready.

“It certainly seems to be a success,” Armitstead said. “I certainly see a lot of happy faces.”

Apart from the four slides, the city had also created two snow play areas, one for children under 5 and one for youngsters older than 5.

In the play areas, toddlers stared at and even occasionally sampled the foreign substance, while older children built snowmen and crafted snowballs.

Dennis Carbajal, who works for the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, wore knee pads over his jeans while he helped out in the play area for the youngest children.

“We made a snowman ourselves, and people have been taking pictures with it,” Carbajal said.

It was Carbajal’s first year working at the Winter Wonderland, but he said he was impressed with the number of families that had turned up so far.

“Instead of going to the snow, we had the snow come to us,” Carbajal said.

In all, about 70 tons of snow were made for the event, said Karen Fries, the city’s community services supervisor.

The snow-creation started at about 5:30 a.m., Fries said, and involved grinding chunks of ice with machines.

Fries attended the first Winter Wonderland the city threw 30 years ago. It was a smaller affair, she said, with one small snow play area and one slide, versus the two large play areas and four slides in use on Saturday.

“Each year we try to provide more and more snow,” said Brittney Bilotti, community services administrator for the city. “There are a lot of kids who come to the event who’ve never seen snow.”

 ANGELA HOKANSON covers education. She may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at angelahokanson@latimes.com.

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