Several hundred children celebrating the winter holidays in Santa Monica last weekend got a taste of a true Southern California Christmas.
The scarcity of snow in the local mountains forced officials to forego the huge snow pile usually imported for the Winter Wonderland-themed Main Street Holiday Event. But not wanting to disappoint the children, event organizers turned to the closest thing around: sand.
"We called it Santa Monica snow," said Howard Robinson, a city staff member who worked with the Main Street Merchants Assn. to organize Saturday's event.
In past years, the snow was brought from Mammoth Mountain. But by Friday, the only snow to be found was man-made, which does not last long enough to transport to Santa Monica, Robinson said.
The association already had sent out more than 5,000 flyers to schools advertising the mountain of snow, Santa Claus, carolers and sledding, so it needed to come up with something, he said.
Early Saturday morning, more than 50 tons of sand was scooped from a Santa Monica beach and transported by two dump trucks to the parking lot of the Heritage Square Museum. Tilting down the back section of one of the dump trucks created a 30-foot slide--perfect for snow-disk sledding.
"The ride was so much longer than when we used snow and everyone had such a good time, [and] we're planning on using sand again next year," Robinson said.