Skating under the palm trees is a unique San Diego way to ring in the winter

Skating under the palm trees is a unique San Diego way to ring in the winter
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A skating rink is many things. It’s a milky-white scene where everyone stars in their own on-ice fantasy. It’s a fighting ring for fighting fears – of falling, getting up, or looking weird doing one or the other. It’s a track for all kinds of jumps. It’s a ticket to some calm.

An outdoor skating rink in San Diego is one more: a little disorienting, in charming San Diego fashion: does it feel like summer or winter? Should I wear gloves or a tank top? Sipping hot chocolate or iced coffee?

Now in its 26th year, the Rady Children’s Hospital ice rink at Liberty Station opened Thursday and Sunday morning people showed up looking for a hint of winter. Culture Club’s “Karma Chameleon” was blaring from the speakers instead of Michael Bublé, but it was starting to sound a lot like the holidays.

Three skaters — two present and one past — spoke with the Union-Tribune about what it’s like to spend time skating with family in San Diego.


The Rady Children’s Hospital ice rink at Liberty Station is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets, which include skate rentals, are $20 for adults and $15 for children. There is a discount for online purchases and for the military. The rink raises money for the hospital. Open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Location: Legacy Plaza, near 2875 Dewey Road. Website:

The almost teen flying almost solo

Ice skaters enjoy the ice rink at Rady Children’s Hospital at Liberty Station on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022 in San Diego.

(Sandy Huffaker/For the San Diego Union-Tribune)

Veronica Nessheim was one of the first people on the ice, putting on her shoelaces as soon as the rink opened at 10 a.m. At 12, she does more on her own these days. On Sunday, she skated alone while her mother, Natalia, watched and read on a nearby bench. Before stepping onto the ice, Veronica had walked over to the rental counter and picked out her own skates. However, she turned around and asked her mother what size she should take: child or adult?

“Adult!” his mother called back.

Sunday was a mother-daughter outing. Veronica’s friends would have come, but they were out of town. Is it harder to do that – spend time together – now that her daughter is almost a teenager?

“Honestly, I don’t think it’s difficult. It’s just that you have to meet their needs, what activities they like,” Natalia said. They live in Rancho San Diego and Liberty Station is a family favorite.

Veronica jumped up, skates in hand. She’s been skating since she was in first grade. Now it’s second nature. “It’s a bit like walking, but faster,” she says. On the ice, she feels like a kid again. “It’s nice and calming. It’s an easy way out of life. Like all the hard stuff and all that.

That middle age comes with its stress, Veronica reminded her two listeners. For one thing, there is no playground at the college. Also, many extracurriculars eat out on weekends. Veronica is studying English and advanced math at her immersion school in Spanish and Mandarin.

How does she feel about spending time with her mother? “Uh, honestly, now I just want to stay away from my parents as much as possible. Sorry mom.”

“It’s okay,” her mother said softly.

On the ice, Veronica glided past other skaters at a leisurely pace, her hot pink sunglasses, wavy bangs, pink t-shirt and pale blue jeans giving off an 80s vibe.

Adults looking for winter fun and a good cause

Karis Dobson’s daughters have been enjoying ice skating since last winter.

“Every year there is a huge gap between ice skating,” said her eldest daughter, Raegan, 10, who added that it can be hard to wait. Aria, 5, says she likes to skate fast.

The family lives in Point Loma. They will probably return several times this season. “It’s nice to have a fun winter activity – when it’s 75 degrees outside,” said Karis, 38.

The girls and mom had just come off the ice and Karis was doing a few things – coordinating with friends, dealing with a child’s complaints about skate discomfort, checking in with her husband and their 3-year-old son. . They didn’t stay at the rink all morning, but they got their hands dabbed so they could come back in the afternoon. Maybe. The day was pleasantly hectic.

“We didn’t skate that long today. But knowing it’s going to children’s hospital, I wasn’t as worried about getting my money’s worth,” Karis said.

At some point, Karis added, she wouldn’t mind spending a few minutes on the ice without a little person clinging to her arm. “It’s kind of nice when the kids sit down,” she says. “Just to go a little fast, find your rhythm, feel like a kid again.”

The passionate and self-actualizing viewer

Nancy Coombs didn’t see her grandchildren in person for about a year and a half during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. They live in San Diego. She lives in the Bay Area.

“The little one is 4, so I missed her whole third year,” Coombs said. She pushed her son and daughter-in-law for a third child. “It was a joke,” she quickly added.

As the children, now aged 4 and 6, and their parents walked past her on the ice, Coombs soaked in what she had been missing all those months.

She examined them from a shady place, on firm ground.

“I haven’t been on the ice for a long time. As an old lady, my balance is not – your balance ages like everything else,” she said, adding that she was 71. The last time she was on ice skates was about 10 years ago. (Tennis is her sport, she says.)

She doesn’t miss skating, but she remembers enjoying it. “I love the freedom of being on the ice. It’s a bit like riding a bicycle, you know? When you ride a bike, you are somehow free. How? “Just, the movement.”

Over the past 10 years, she has found another form of freedom, she says.

“I guess I feel totally free when it comes to my age. I feel like I can, you know, do whatever I want,” Coombs said, then clarified: no anything she wants. “I mean, if I want to go a day without brushing my hair, you know what, that’s fine with me. And if you don’t like it, you know…” Her voice trailed off. She also stopped talking. dye hair during the pandemic.

Growing up in Oregon, Coombs enjoyed playing outdoors. The rain didn’t stop her. Now she enjoys seeing her family live an outdoor lifestyle. His son came forward. They had finished skating. It was time for the next adventure: lunch.

California Daily Newspapers

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