SAN JOSE, Calif. - A holiday tradition returns to downtown San Jose. The opening celebration of the downtown ice rink was held on Monday night. City leaders hope the holiday favorite will help revitalize the downtown economy.
With performances from Snoopy and an impressive back flip from figure skater Angela Wang on the ice, the holiday downtown ice rink is officially back in downtown San Jose.
"It is so great to be back here and to have the reopening of it, it’s been two years and i think people are ready to get back outside," said U.S. Olympic figure skating champion Kristi Yamaguchi.
The ice rink is named after Kristi Yamaguchi. Now in its 25th year, it’s the only ice rink in the world surrounded by 32 palm trees known as the Circle of Palms.
"We are going to have a great time," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "We all deserve a great time because it’s been tough for a couple years here right in here downtown."
The pandemic forced the ice rink to be closed last year. Christmas in the Park, another holiday favorite, returns this Friday complete with rides at Winter Wonderland.
"Seeing a bunch of kids skating around this rink just makes everything more beautiful and wonderful in this square," said Liccardo.
Signs of the pandemic linger. The Fairmont in downtown is closed after filing for bankruptcy.
A new city audit showed Team San Jose nonprofit, that manages several city-owned facilities, reported zero dollars in economic impact for this past fiscal year after the county health mandate made it impossible to do business.
"Team San Jose, convention center, theaters, everybody took a huge hit," said Blage Zelalich of the City of San Jose Economic Development. "The great part about it is we’ve got events like the van Gogh exhibit and we’ve got all the theaters coming back with the holiday performances."
The San Jose Downtown Association said restaurants are staffing up hoping to take advantage of this critical time.
"We want to have that vibrancy come back," said San Jose Downtown Association Executive Director Scott Knies. "Get people out and about enjoying themselves going to the small businesses, going to the restaurants."
For the Angeles family, they can’t wait to make more holiday memories.
"It’s just fun," said Paolo Angeles of San Jose. "Memories for us, particularly he’s learning how to play hockey so he’s super excited."
"I just love skating," said Jordan Angeles of San Jose. "I’ve been doing it since i was really young and it’s just something i love to do."
The downtown ice rink is open until Jan. 9. Tickets are sold online only and proof of vaccination is required. Portion of ticket sales will benefit Kristi Yamaguchi’s "Always Dream" organization.
Azenith Smith is a reporter for KTVU. Email Azenith at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on twitter and instagram @azenithktvu or Facebook or ktvu.com.