A.J. Eigenbrood, 4, had always wanted to experience a white winter after learning about the season in his preschool class, and on Saturday he got the chance to don his handcrafted scarf and rain boots at Lake Forest’s own winter wonderland.
“Before we left this morning, he said that he couldn’t leave home without a scarf since he needed to wear his winter clothes,” said Julia Eigenbrood, A.J.'s mother. “I grabbed some fabric and my hot glue gun to make one, and he hasn’t taken the thing off. He loves it."
The slopes of were transformed Saturday afternoon with the arrival of the city’s annual Snowfest. Introduced twelve years ago, the event offers local families the chance to break away from the warm Southern California weather and spend a day in the snow. For a nominal entrance fee, attendees had access to a small field of snow, slopes for tobogganing, and a bounce house, among other activities.
Jeff Parker and his family, from Irvine, were first-timers to the event. They were looking forward to riding down “Bunny Hill” with their two daughters and taking part in the other activities offered at the park, Parker said Saturday.
“Since it’s so hot, it seemed like a great day to cool off and have fun,” he said. “[With] a bounce house and snow, what more do you need to entertain your children?”
About 1,500 people slid down the snowy slope Saturday afternoon, said Jerry Zechmeister, a Lake Forest resident and a volunteer at the event. In preparation for the crowds of attendees, trucks arrived at 6 a.m. with several loads of ice, crushing and spraying it onto the green hills at Pittsford Park.
Families who weren't sledding still enjoyed the snow by making snowballs, snowmen, and playing pranks by putting ice down a family member’s back. Bits of ice flew through the air as snowball fights got underway, occasionally striking innocent passersby.
“My 4-year-old is all about it,” added Eigenbrood. “A.J. was making snowmen, throwing snowballs, and running around. Dirkson, my 15-month-old, didn’t know what to make it of it though. He was walking so slow in the snow,” she added with a smile.
Select characters from “Star Wars” stopped by the snowscape to take pictures for attendees. With intergalactic music playing in the background, Darth Vader and two storm troopers attracted attention from the crowds. Nectar, the city’s hummingbird mascot, added to the mix, and took a moment to dance on stage with the well-known members of the sci-fi saga.
“It’s one of the major events [the city puts on],” Zechmeister said. “I love seeing all the kids have fun.”
Children—and some parents—giggled loudly as they slid down the icy slope on brightly-colored toboggans, slowed at the bottom by a bed of hay. Picnics were set up on the periphery of the attractions, and families looked on as their kids frolicked in the snow.
“Events like these bring the whole community together,” Parker said. “It’s a really great community event.”