Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SNOW MUCH FUN! Ice Skate amid the Swirling Flakes and More in a Winter Wonderland

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

SNOW MUCH FUN! Ice Skate amid the Swirling Flakes and More in a Winter Wonderland

Article excerpt

Byline: KONRAD MARSHALL

ST. AUGUSTINE - The first snowfall of the year is something most Northerners dread, signaling as it does the beginning of a five-month engagement with paralyzing cold.

But elsewhere, like Florida, the first flakes - heck, ANY flakes - are a wonder.

Magic, as it were.

Children and adults alike smiled at such magic last weekend as a fey wind took white clouds across the night sky under a bright full moon. Families and couples wrapped in fleeces, hats and scarves, the chill in the air belying the location of the wintry festivities - St. Augustine Amphitheatre - and the holiday event that is Winter Wonderland.

Through Sunday, Jan. 6, the amphitheater will host an outdoor ice skating rink (open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 10 each day). It costs $8 to skate and $2 to rent skates.

Over the same time frame, Theatre St. Augustine presents Gift of the Magi (showtimes 7 p.m. Fridays, 8 p.m. Saturdays, 2 and 4 p.m. Sundays).

Up until Christmas, a certain fat bearded man in a red suit with white fur trim will be making chit-chat with children from 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There is also an Elf Village at the venue, and other attractions such as a short story contest, a magician and a Kwanzaa celebration.

But the big draw, obviously, is the snow.

"Magic" snow.

Every night at 9, it comes shooting out of industrial piping above the skating rink. People can even buy snow to throw at loved ones or invest in a sleigh ride through the lighted trails throughout the amphitheater's arboretum (sleigh bells ring-ting-tingaling all the way).

Last Friday, Stacy Crays, 35, of St. Augustine was eagerly awaiting the first snowfall with her daughters Shae, 7, Sunny, 12, and nephew, Rimmie, 10, while skating with dozens of other folks.

"You just need a little practice," said Crays, looking positively Nordic - all blond hair, with a white woolen hat and sweater - trying to coax her youngest onto the open ice. …

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