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Snow in Anaheim?

GAYS MILLS - Anaheim is situated in the heart of sunny southern California. It’s the home of Disneyland and the Anaheim Angels ballpark. It’s also close to the beaches and near many other major tourist destinations.  And, it’s not far from Hollywood and environs–the dream factory where much of America’s movie industry is located.

However, this area is not known for snow. It’s where people go to get away from snow. It is a snow-deprived area and they like it that way. It is a very rare and freaky occasion when it snows at all in that neck of the woods. If someone spots a few flakes (snow, that is)in the foothills, flakes that disappear as soon as they land, it’s the talk of the area for days. Wow, it snowed! I would wager that not one SoCal garage in a thousand  contains a snow shovel. Unless maybe the owner is a recent transplant from snow country. 

According to a recent article in the Wisconsin State Journal, it has become common in southern California in recent years for spin-offs from the entertainment industry to become employed around the holidays to make snow. This snow is strictly for show, for effect, part of the holiday decorations. It’s made at Disneyland, Legoland, Universal Studios, and malls, zoos, and theme parks across the snow-starved region. Special effects meets reality and no shoveling required. I bet the Wisconsinites visiting for the Rose Bowl got a charge out of seeing the natives’ reactions to ‘snow.’

It turns out that there’s a booming mini-industry in making this faux snow. The 13 companies involved showed up at something called the Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo in Orlando this year. The recipe for making faux snow is a closely guarded secret, but essentially it’s a mixture of water and a soapy additive that is mixed together and blasted into the sky from rooftops by powerful air blowers. Let’s assume the recipe is not toxic, and let’s hope that the locals don’t get all excited and make a snow cone out of it.

One of the ironies of living in southern California is that you can ‘see’ snow every day. The upper reaches of the San Bernardino Mountains, just east of all the urban sprawl,  get snow-covered in a normal winter and make a great backdrop for all the fun in the sun down below. The highest peak, Mt. San Gorgornio or ‘Old Greyback’ rises to over 11,000 feet, way above timberline, and holds its snow cover for months.

Special effects experts have been making fake snow for movies for decades. The first use of soap suds as snow was in the 1946 film, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ That looked like some real Wisconsin-grade snow there and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. Before that, movies used corn flakes, (corn flakes!) painted white and spread around. One problem with that method was the loud crunch made when the ‘snow flakes’ were walked on.  So, the use of the soap mixture was a giant leap forward.

In the meantime, we’re overdue here for some real snow. Not complaining but it is nice to have a thick snow cover when the mercury dips way down, as it no doubt will.