San Jose’s Christmas in the Park to Return Without Ice Rink

The winter holidays are still a ways away but there’s already a big change coming for one longtime South Bay tradition. 

The Kristi Yamaguchi Downtown Ice Rink, a fixture near San Jose’s Christmas in the Park, won’t be part of the festivities this year.

The traditional ice rink that filled the space under the palms for more than a decade and has been a fundraiser for Kristi Yamaguchi’s Children’s Literacy Foundation since 2009 will not be there this season.

“That’s sad because it’s been a fixture of San Jose for the longest time with Christmas in the Park,” said Erlinda Salangsang of San Jose. “The kids flock to it a lot.”

The rink operator, hired by San Jose last year, decided not to return. San Jose city officials said the group cited a lack of customers.

COVID concerns, which closed the rink and Christmas in the Park in 2020, lingered last year. 

In fact, Christmas in the Park became a mobile event and the Fairmont Hotel next door closed down permanently — likely leading more people to stay home.

“Well because we are still in the midst of recovering from the pandemic,” said Jim Salsman of Mountain View. 

Now, even though Christmas In The Park is returning and the Fairmont has been replaced by the Hilton, city officials say there wasn’t enough time to have another ice rink set up.

The Kristi Yamaguchi Always Dream Foundation remains a partner with another holiday ice rink in San Ramon and will continue this year with a grand opening on Nov. 11. 

For now, San Jose organizers are calling this year’s ice rink absence a hiatus with hopes of bringing it back next year.

“They should put it up again,” said Salangsang. “Because people are starting to come back, go out more.”

City officials still have hopes of staging some fun activities at the circle of palms to at least alleviate some of the disappointment. 

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