Santa and Riggs, the Condors’ mascot, greet each other at Memorial Stadium during media night at Winterfest in Bakersfield.

In the unlikely event you still haven’t managed to achieve a winter/holiday/Christmas/neck-scarf frame of mind, this may do the trick.


No, we don’t mean that occasional early morning layer of frozen fog on your windshield. We’re talking about the real thing, or as close to the real thing as one can get in California this close to sea level.

We’re talking about a series of shallow frozen ponds that beckon from a rather unlikely place: Bakersfield College’s football stadium.

This rather incongruous locale is made possible by the Bakersfield Condors, our adventurous hockey professionals, who apparently have nothing better to do than to defy nature.

The project is called Winterfest, and it’s ambitious to say the least.

The Condors have built a full-size ice rink in the middle of Memorial Stadium and they’re opening it up for nearly three weeks of public skating and youth and adult hockey, culminating in a pair of big outdoor hockey games, one of them featuring Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky.

The whole shebang opens Friday and runs through Jan. 7, when the Condors will play an official American Hockey League game against the Ontario Reign under Bakersfield’s broad sky.

During the hours the rink is open to the public, guests can enjoy ice-skating, bounce houses, an obstacle course and a 220-foot zip-line, all also on the field. A pass to Winterfest is $20, and a ride on the zip-line is an extra $10. For those who are only accompanying ice-skaters and not doing any of the activities themselves, there’s no charge to sit and watch.

The public skate days (and a 5K on Dec. 31) will help to drum up excitement leading up to the two big games before the rink closes: the National Hockey League Alumni & Celebrity Game featuring Gretzky and Luc Robitaille on Jan. 6, and the Three-Way Chevrolet Condorstown Outdoor Classic, where the Condors will take on the Ontario Reign on Winterfest’s final day.

Check it out, before nature restores order and the Zamboni goes home.

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