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At Ramadan's end, it's time for some serious fun

After the fasting period, Muslim families treat themselves to a day at an Irvine amusement park.

October 24, 2006|Kelly-Anne Suarez | Times Staff Writer

A couple of thousand Muslims gathered Monday at the Boomers amusement park in Irvine to celebrate the end of Ramadan -- a holy month of fasting and prayer -- with rock climbing, go-karts and cotton candy.

The Islamic holiday, called Eid al-Fitr, is a time to gather with friends and family after a month of spiritual growth, said Mohammad Aladra, a volunteer for the Muslim American Society of Orange County, which sponsored the event and reserved the park for it.

It's an especially enjoyable time for children, he said, who often receive gifts as well as a new outfit to show off that day.

Samer Soubra said he and his wife, Kathy, set their two boys, 17-year-old Mohammad and 11-year-old Tarek, loose at Boomers about noon. A few hours later, they still hadn't seem them. The act of fasting takes a lot of discipline for little ones, so "it's a treat to take them somewhere where they can just be children," the Garden Grove resident said.

While a constant stream of sugar-infused kids bounced from the carousel to the teacup rides to mini-golf, Soubra caught up with his friends and enjoyed the warm weather. He also was invigorated by an afternoon cup of java -- "I missed coffee," he said.

Over at the Jumping Jester, Rana Koujah photographed her 5-year-old son, Kareem, screaming with pleasure as the ride hoisted him straight up in the air only to shoot him back down.

The mother of three decided to stop by Boomers before heading to a dinner party. It's the one time of year when Muslims in the area abandon their daily stresses and distractions and come together to celebrate.

For 10-year-olds Tanya Jaradi and Jenin Abdalla, it was all about the rides, though.

Tanya said she had looked forward to the holiday -- and some Chinese food -- since the beginning of Ramadan. For the occasion, she had her nails painted pink and received a camouflage jumpsuit with a sequined gold belt.

The schoolmates plotted their next move -- "bumper boats" -- their lips tinged purple by strawberry-bubblegum snow cones. Both agreed that an Eid celebration at Boomers was about the coolest thing ever.

"They should have done this a long time ago," Jenin said.

kelly-anne.suarez@latimes.com

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