The holiday tradition returns to San José

A vacation tradition returns to downtown San Jose. The opening celebration for the downtown ice rink took place on Monday evening. City leaders hope the holiday favorite will help revitalize the downtown economy.

With performances by Snoopy and an impressive back flip from figure skater Angela Wang on the ice, the Vacation Downtown Skateway is officially back in downtown San Jose.

“It’s so great to be back here and to have it reopened, it’s been two years and I think people are ready to come back out,” said US Olympic figure skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi.

The rink is named after Kristi Yamaguchi. Now in its 25th year, it is the only ice rink in the world surrounded by 32 palm trees known as the Circle of Palms.

“We’re going to have a great time,” San José Mayor Sam Liccardo said. “We all deserve a good time because it’s been tough for a few years here, right here downtown.”

The pandemic forced the ice rink to close last year. Christmas in the Park, another holiday favorite, returns this Friday with rides at Winter Wonderland.

“Seeing a group of children skating around this rink just makes it more beautiful and wonderful in this square,” Liccardo said.

Signs of the pandemic persist. The Fairmont downtown is closed after filing for bankruptcy.

A new city audit showed that the nonprofit Team San Jose, which operates several city-owned facilities, reported a zero dollar economic impact in the past fiscal year after the health mandate county made any commercial activity impossible.

“The team in San Jose, the convention center, the theaters, everyone has taken a huge hit,” said Blage Zelalich of the City of San Jose Economic Development. “The good thing is that we have events like the van Gogh exhibit and all theaters are coming back with the holiday performances.”

The San Jose Downtown Association said restaurants are regrouping in hopes of taking advantage of this critical time.

“We want that momentum to return,” said Scott Knies, executive director of the San Jose Downtown Association. “Get people out and have fun by going to small businesses, to restaurants.”

For the Angeles family, they can’t wait to make more vacation memories.

“It’s just fun,” said Paolo Angeles of San Jose. “Memories for us, especially learning to play hockey, so he’s super excited. “

“I love to skate,” said Jordan Angeles of San Jose. “I’ve been doing this since I was very young and it’s just something I love to do.”

The downtown ice rink is open until January 9. Tickets are sold online only and proof of vaccination is required. A portion of the ticket sales will benefit Kristi Yamaguchi’s “Always Dream” organization.

Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at [email protected] and follow her on twitter and instagram @azenithktvu or Facebook or

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