THE BEGINNING OF NOVEMBER... can only mean one thing. No, it isn't the fact that Christmas carols will start playing in the mall (they've already kind of started, here and there). And you won't be seeing a thousand offbeat recipes for turkey starting up (the number is more like two or three thousand). But what you will be doing, like many other people right about now, is realizing that the holiday extravaganza, is starting up in earnest, which can only mean that you'll need to break out your swimsuit and ice skates very soon. That is, of course, if you honor the Golden State tradition of ice-skating on the first day of the new year while wearing your favorite tankini or board shorts. True, we do also like to run into the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 1, but several seasonal ice rinks around California are now making the "skate in your swimsuit on New Year's Day" a full-on rite of yearly passage. Walnut Creek on Ice observes the brrr-filled ritual, and a lot of other yuletide, rink-lively to-dos, too. And with the opening just days away -- Wednesday, Nov. 11 is the kick-off -- anyone thinking of taking to the ice might want to break out the mittens and/or swimsuit, depending on the day of arrival.
THE 11TH SEASON... for the downtown destination twirls from Nov. 11 through to Jan. 18, so you've got over two months to sharpen your skills. Special happenings include a Children's Winter Festival, a special showing from the Lamorinda Theater, and Family Skate Nights, plus the aforementioned Polar Bear Icepolooza on New Year's Day (not mentioned: Show in your "beach apparel" and you'll get five bucks off the price on Jan. 1). The Veteran's Day opening has a deal for veterans and their guests -- $15 for skate rental and two hours on the rink -- and other festive happenings are currently chilling before their big holiday 2015 debut. But, truly, 2016 going to be the year you welcome while in "beach apparel" on an ice rink? Or by running into the Pacific with a lot of other hearty souls? We're a curious lot out here on the West Coast, full of vim and vitality and a little bit of foolishness, too. As long as we keep the towels and the coats nearby, the New Year's Day in the ocean or at Walnut Creek on Ice seems like a memorable way to jumpstart the next 365.